The Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) Marketing and Tourism Director Asif Zaheer said on Saturday that the authority had submitted a feasibility report (PC-II) to the Planning and Development Department regarding infrastructural improvement and facade rehabilitation in the Bhati Gate-Mori Gate-Pani Wala Talaab area.
As many as 421 streets, 4735 houses and 70 other buildings would be restored under the project. These include the Naqsh School of Art, the Fakir Khana Museum, Haveli Wajid Ali Shah, Haveli Mubarak Begum, Qamar Manzil, Allama Iqbal’s house and the Oonchi Masjid (High Mosque). Speaking to The Express Tribune, Deputy Director Tanya Qureshi said the project would be completed in two years after the proposal was approved. Qureshi said the authority had decided to restore the trail to provide better services to visitors. Zaheer said façades of all buildings in the area would be restored to provide the visitors with a unique experience. He said the initiative would enable them to see the eclectic architecture of the area and sample the rich cultural life of the city.
Zaheer said improving and developing infrastructure in the area was another objective of the project. The electricity supply, sewage, water supply, and telecommunications lines were all dilapidated.
He said similar work had been carried out earlier in the Delhi Gate-Kotwali Chowk area in the Pilot Project-1. He said the authority was trying to ensure that the initiative was sustainable by encouraging the residents of the area to participate.
Director-General Kamran Lashari said cultural heritage was inherently linked to social life. He said it was unfortunate that the built heritage in the area had deteriorated over time. Lashari said the living standards of the residents of the Walled City had also declined gradually.
He said the overarching goal of the project was to restore the area to its past glory.
Lashari said the authority’s recent initiatives had improved the ambience of the area somewhat by revamping infrastructure and public service delivery and reducing traffic congestion. He said the Bhati Gate area could become a popular tourist trail.
Zakir Islam, a resident of Bhati Gate, said living conditions in the area were squalid. He said the area would become more attractive if the authority restored it like Delhi Gate. Islam said the area had been long neglected.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2014.