Apprehensions: Church administrations demand govt address their concerns

Four churches brace for metro train project impact

The admin says the Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church will be restored to its original design once construction work is complete. PHOTOS: ABID NAWAZ/EXPRESS

LAHORE: Administrations of four churches likely to be affected by the Lahore Orange Line Metro Train project have demanded that the government address their concerns.

The Cathedral Church of the Resurrection, The Mall, is likely to bear the most extensive disruption on account of the project. The project management plans to use three kanals of its land to construct a pumping station along the underground section of the train track.

The church, completed in 1887, is built on land measuring 84 kanals.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Shahid P Mehraj, dean of the church, said that the ground was used by the school affiliated with the church which had 2,500 students.

The admin is reviewing an earlier decision to acquire three kanals land from Cathedral Church of Resurrection. PHOTOS: ABID NAWAZ/EXPRESS

“The ground [the government proposes to use] is also used for religious congregations and for other activities. Other churches also arrange their gatherings here,” he said. He said that they had written a letter to the government to express their concern at the acquisition plan.

The St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church on Nabha Road was built in 1860. It has an area of seven kanals. The project management wants to utilise 1.4 kanals of its land during the construction of underground section of the project. In the notice given to the caretaker and pastor of the church, the authorities have promised to restore the ground-level construction to its original condition within four months of completion of the underground section.

The church administration has conveyed its reservations through a letter. Talking to The Express Tribune, Elder Jamshed Rahmatullah, the sessions secretary of the church, said that they were not opposed to the project. “However, we want the project administration to ensure that the sanctity of the church is maintained at all times. If our reservations are not addressed, we will have no option but to peacefully protest,” he said.

St Paul’s Presbyterian Church on Nicholson Road was built in 1880. It has a covered area of seven kanals.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Arshad Gill, the pastor and caretaker, said that some representatives of the train project had informed him that they planned to acquire one kanal from its land. “The historical building of the church will be affected [by the project]. If the government tries to take the land without our consent, we will protest,” he said.

The caretaker at the Saint Paul’s Presbyterian Church says they will protest if church land is acquired without their consent. PHOTOS: ABID NAWAZ/EXPRESS

Talking to The Express Tribune, Dr Majeed Able, pastor and caretaker of the Naulakha Presbyterian Church on Empress Road, said they had not yet been officially informed that their land would be acquired. “Some project officials had contacted me on the phone, but no notice has been given so far. We will not allow a single inch of the church land to be taken away,” he said.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Lahore Development Authority (LDA) Deputy Director Muhammad Asad said that according to the original project plan, they would not have to acquire land from the Naulakha Presbyterian Church.

“We will acquire four marlas from unused space of St Paul’s Presbyterian Church,” he said.

Naulakha Presbyterian Church caretaker says he has not yet received any notice from the admin. PHOTOS: ABID NAWAZ/EXPRESS

Asad said initially, they had planned to take three kanals land from the Cathedral Church of the Resurrection. “However, we are reviewing [the decision] now to reduce the land acquisition,” he said.

He said they would temporarily use the land of St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. “Once construction of the underground track is complete, we will restore it to the original design,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th,  2016.


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