The Walled city of Lahore Authority (WCLA) has started registering properties and their owners under its building control plan.
The authority’s Urban Planning Wing has started the registration process under Article 36, Chapter IX of the WCLA ACT, 2012.
Under the Act, the authority has the responsibility to maintain a record of owners and occupants of immovable property located within the Walled City.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Urban Planning Deputy Director Shahid Mehmood said around 22,000 buildings would be registered electronically. “We will identify the land use and ownership of the properties and maintain a database for future use,” he said.
He said the buildings would be divided into commercial and residential categories. Mehmood said the mechanism of registration for residential and commercial buildings had been laid down in the building by-laws of the WCLA. “A property owner will submit a copy of his ownership record to the authority along with the necessary details relating to land use,” he said.
The official said the database would allow the WCLA to monitor how the buildings were used and determine whether it should be categorised as a commercial property or a residence.
“Once a property is registered under the Walled city of Lahore Authority ACT 2012, the building owner will not be able to change the nature of its use or its architecture without the WCLA’s approval. In this way, heritage buildings will not be lost,” Mehmood said.
“A Walled city of Lahore Authority committee will scrutinise each building before its registration. Its members will survey the area before registering a building,” Mehmood said. He said the properties would be registered through the geographic information system (GIS).
“The data will be saved electronically to make the information accessible and readily available. This will help us categorise the businesses, residential areas and commercial activities in the Walled City,” Mehmood said.
Director General Kamran Lashari said, “Much of Lahore’s architectural heritage has been lost over the years. Our first priority is to save what is left.”
Talib Hussain, a cultural heritage expert working at the Walled City of Lahore Authority, told The Express Tribune that most historical buildings in the Walled City were ruined once their owners converted them into commercial properties.
“Owners demolish buildings overnight or change the use from residential to commercial. If no steps are taken, we will very soon lose what is left of the city’s rich architectural heritage,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2014.
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