Reviving business: Walled City Authority seeks charge of Food Street

Asks for Rs50 million and waiver of liabilities against the Food Street.


Rameez Khan July 28, 2013
The Food Street, located behind the Badshahi Masjid, had aimed to provide quality food and revive culture. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE:


The Walled City Lahore Authority has written to the city government asking that it should be handed control of the Fort Road Food Street. The Walled City Lahore Authority wants the transfer to take place within a few days and without any liability.


The Food Street, located behind the Badshahi Masjid, had aimed to provide quality food and revive culture. The project was inaugurated in February 2012 and had around 27 food outlets. Only 10 are still open.

The Society for Development and Management of Fort Road Food Street presented several proposals to revive the Food Street over the past six months. The Society tasked with managing the food street has been registered with the Enterprise and Investment Promotion district office under the Societies Registration Act 1860. The number of restaurants fell to 16 in October 2012 and only 10 of them remain. The electricity was disconnected twice due to a lack of funds to pay bills. A corner of the Food Street, near Roshani Gate, does not have a generator connection.

More than Rs800 million was spent on the development of the FRFS. This included the beautification of facades, renovation of the street’s entry and exit gates, installation of security cameras and renovation of the balconies. The funds were provided by the Punjab government to the city government as a special grant. The city government had then given the money to the Society for Development and Management of Fort Road Food Street. The loan has not been paid back.

The WCLA letter does not mention why the authority has asked for the transfer of control. Instead it states that the letter is being written on the direction of the provincial government.  The letter has requested the city government to waive the liabilities against the Food Street. It also demands an explanation of the legal status of the Society. It has also demanded Rs50 million for illuminating the Hazoori Bagh. The WCLA wants to create a new committee to manage the Street.

A WCLA official said that the administration has held several meetings with the city government. He said that the city government had agreed verbally to transfer control of the Food Street and had asked the WCLA to define the modalities of transfer.

WCLA Director General Kamran Lashari said that he expected the transfer of control soon. He said that the WCLA would accept control of the Food Street without the Rs50 million, it had asked for but not accept any liabilities. He said that they would try to improve the Food Street without changing too many things about it.

Business

The Society for Development and Management of Fort Road Food Street started by charging Rs10 per chair. The rate was revised during former DCO Noorul Amin Mengal’s tenure to Rs20. According to a member of the Society, the restaurants have not been paying them the rate.

Several business outlets blame the administration for failing to maintain the environment and the quality of food. They allege that the city government has shown no interest in reviving the Food Street, even though the district coordination officer is president of the Society.

Society Secretary Colonel Altaf said that they had instructed restaurant owners to improve the quality and variety of food, but they could not take coercive action.

The Society, he said, has not been paid for a month as the city government had not released any funds.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2013.

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