The Ravi Town administration has pledged to stop the construction of a plaza next to a historic imambargah in the Walled City, after the 200-year-old building developed cracks in its structure due to the building work.
Asif Ali Mirza, the caretaker of the Imambargah Qasr-i-Abbas at Kashmiri Gate, told The Express Tribune that the plot next door had been a private house, but the property was sold to a man named Mateen Khan a few months ago. He said that Khan demolished the house and started digging a deep pit to build a plaza. This had resulted in deep cracks forming in the imambargah building, he said.
Mirza moved a petition against the construction at the Lahore High Court and Justice Ayesha A Malik on November 5 order the Ravi Town TMO to hear both sides and then decide the matter within three weeks.
The imambargah’s caretaker said that TMO Ahmed Kamal had not held a single hearing on the matter. But talking to The Express Tribune, Kamal said that he had determined that the plaza’s construction was illegal. He said on Monday, he and the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) would lodge an FIR against the plaza owner and seal the construction site.
Mirza said that workers were now building the second storey of the plaza and if they were not stopped, the imambargah could soon collapse. He said that the imambargah received thousands of visitors regularly and they had been angered by the construction next door and its effects on the building.
He warned that there may be clashes. “Some of them want to demolish the plaza. I have placated them for now, but if the construction work does not cease, I might not be able to stop them,” he said.
On July 11, the city government carried out an operation at Kashmiri Gate to pull down an illegal plaza. Then DCO Nasim Sadiq had said that there was a “mafia” behind the illegal construction.
WCLA Director General Kamran Lashari had also expressed reservations about the “overnight construction” of illegal plazas in Lahore’s historic centre. “The Walled City will turn into a warehouse or a piece of commercial land if mechanisms for building control are not outlined,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2013.