LAHORE - In a bid to follow the free-media notion, the Punjab government is in the process of abolishing the provincial Information Department, while placing the Directorate General of Public Relations at the disposal of the Services and General Administration Department, as it was so previously prior to the creation of the Information, Culture and Youth Affairs Department. According to a source, a proposal has been sent to the competent authority for granting approval. After this, the present IC&YA Department will be transformed into the Culture, Tourism, Archives, Libraries and Youth Affairs Department. The main objective behind this move seems to be the idea that if the control of the DGPR is transferred to the S&GAD, people will have the understanding that the government believes in free and independent media, both electronic and print. Secondly, the DGPR, as previously it was working under the S&GAD on the pattern of a field unit, would be placed under the Services Department. Moreover, as per past arrangement, the Additional Chief Secretary would be its Administrative Secretary. It will on the same pattern like the Director General Protocol is still functioning under the ACS. "The second option is of keeping the DGPR under the yet-to-be-created department for better projection of cultural and literary activities, and tourism initiatives," said the source while adding that the DGPR could fall under the new department. The source maintained that the move actually got initiated when Secretary Implementation and Coordination Wing S&GAD Omer Rasul initiated a summary for absorbing the Tourism and Resort Development Department into the Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries Department, which would have been renamed as Forestry, Wildlife, Fisheries and Tourism Department. In 1986, the then Chief Minister Punjab Nawaz Sharif allocated the portfolio of Forest and Tourism to Minister Culture Sardar Ali Rashid besides desiring that the Directorate of Tourism should be detached from the Department of Information and Culture for its further absorption into the Forest Department. Later that year, the Board of Director of the Tourism Development Corporation Punjab abolished the Tourism Directorate. However, under the present administration, the idea of dissolving the Tourism Department came to the fore, but both T&RDD and FW&FD did not support the proposal for abolishing the Department when its Secretary Khusro Pervez Khan suggested that the Department should be reorganised with Culture and Archaeology, as the Punjab could prove to be attractive considering its rich history, unique culture, diversity of landscape and ancient archaeological sites. He floated the idea for constituting the Tourism, Culture and Archaeology Department through a merger of Tourism and Culture Departments, and their autonomous bodies. This proposal was supported by Secretary IC&YA Department Orya Maqbool Jan Abassi when in a summary he averred that blending of both culture and tourism together would provide an opportunity for working closely as there was very little to offer in the Punjab in other fields of tourism, like natural sites. It was stated so considering the fact that the Punjab was a crucible of different civilisations, cultures and heritages, which provided unmatched attractions to tourists. He also included Libraries and Archives, functioning under the Education Department and the S&GAD respectively, for bringing them under the proposed department. He suggested that libraries, coupled with the cultural complexes of arts councils and museums through out the province, would develop direct association with the cultural bodies for further interaction with the society. However, the present IC&YAD rubbed out the 'Information' nomenclature from the Department by coming up with the Culture, Tourism, Archives, Libraries and Youth Affairs Department. "This has been done primarily by making an effort at doing away with the DGPR, and placing it under the S&GAD, as previously it used to be," said the source adding that these all steps would be taken by amending the Punjab Government Rules of Business 1974. "The abolishing of the Information Department is expected to be met with strong resistance considering that all the provinces have already created an iconic presence of Secretaries Information for an apparent purpose of representing the respective governments in the media. The adversaries of this idea can maintain that for inter-provincial equivalence and uniformity, the Punjab must retain the Information Department as well," maintained the source hinting at the possibility of move would be shot down.