The Walled City of Lahore Authority, set up in 2012, met early this week for the first time. A number of decisions regarding the authority’s procedure and some of the projects it will oversee were taken. The minutes of the meeting were released on Wednesday.
The chief secretary chaired the meeting. Kamran Lashari, the authority’s director general, the Planning and Development Department Board chairman, the finance secretary, the auqaf secretary, the sports, archaeology youth affairs & tourism secretary, the inspector general of police and the Archaeology Department director general were among those who attended the meeting.
The participants agreed that the authority’s main goals would be to conserve and restore the Walled City and to promote tourism.
A sum of Rs3.281 billion was approved for the renovation of the Royal Trail from Delhi Gate to Lahore Fort, the renovation of the city gates, havelis, squares and other heritage. The budget will also cover the cost of running the authority’s office. It was decided that the authority will take over the CIA building, in front of the Delhi Gate and convert it into its office-cum-museum.
The Auqaf Department transferred the management and control of the premises, along with staff, of the Shahi Hammam, Masjid Wazir Khan and Sonehri Masjid over to the WCLA. All gates of the Walled City were also transferred to the WCLA. The authority decided to issue notices to the people owning dilapidated properties in Haveli Dhian Singh, Taxali Gate, Dina Nath Well and Chowk Wazir Khan.
The director general was given the power to declare any building a heritage site, to approve schemes up to Rs50 million and granting concurrence to other departments. The director general was also delegated the powers to register owners and occupants of the buildings in the Walled City area. The authority allowed the DG to approach the World Bank for Rs2.1 billion funding.
If World Bank Funds are not forthcoming, the DG shall request the provincial government for funding from the Large Cities Projects.
A non-development budget of Rs203.18240 million was also approved.
Until the authority frames its own rules, it will adopt the rules of the Lahore Development Authority and the departments of auqaf, archaeology and tourism and the Punjab Horticulture Authority.
The DG and the auqaf secretary were asked to jointly identify other properties of the Auqaf Department in the Walled City area to be taken over by the authority.
The participants nominated the following members to the Heritage Conservation Board: They are Nayyar Ali Dada, Sajjad Kauser, Faqir Saifuddin, Yousaf Salahuddin, Saleema Hashmi, Majeed Sheikh and Asmat Tahira.
A four-member Citizens Community Council was also constituted. It comprises Ahmad Rashid alias Sujji Butt, Shahid Prince, Jameel Sharif, Muhammad Ali Chughtai. Names of Mian Muhammad Aslam, Malik Shafiq, Khwaja Aamir, Shujauddin Dar were approved as members of the Trade and Business Council.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 4th, 2013.