—A total of 247 sites to be declared as heritage properties under WCLA Act 2012
–DG assures taking up conservation of heritage buildings once authority receives funds
LAHORE: For the first time ever since the formulation of Heritage Properties Rules 2016, Walled City of Lahore Authority’s (WCLA) Heritage Conservation Board (HCB) has approved a list of 16 heritage properties, including historic houses, havelis and monuments, Pakistan Today has learnt.
The proposed constructions were declared as heritage properties by WCLA as per chapter 5 and section 23 of the WCLA Act 2012, according to which the authority may, in consultation with HCB, for purposes of conservation of heritage and by notification in the official gazette, declare a building, structure, land, building fabric, urban open space or work in the Walled City of heritage value.
For this purpose, Heritage Property Rules were framed by WCLA in 2017 and a list of 247 buildings was prepared.
It has been learnt that initially 16 buildings out of the total 247 are being taken up for declaration as heritage properties and the HCB would meet fortnightly to assess and declare more constructions as heritage.
In a meeting held here on Friday, HCB approved the declarations of Haveli Kabli Mal, Dina Nath Haveli, Bej Nath Haveli , Mian Sultan Haveli, Laal Haveli, D-747 , D-748 , D-838 , D-750 , House of Allama Iqbal B-597, A-12, Neevin Masjid, Victoria High School, Haveli Dhyan Singh, Wazir Khan Mosque and Mariam Zamani Mosque as heritage properties.
Some of the said properties were declared as heritage as per the Antiquities Act 1975 and Special Premises Act 1985, but WCLA would endorse them as per the WCLA ACT 2012 as well.
The members of the HCB who were present in the meeting included HCB Chairman Yousaf Salahuddin, WCLA Director General Kamran Lashari, architect Nayyer Ali Dada, owner of Faqir Khana Museum Faqir Syed Saifuddin, representatives of the Punjab Archaeology Department as well as three representatives of the Lahore High Court (LHC), including architect Kamil Khan Mumtaz, painter Ejaz Anwar and Advocate Anas Ghazi.
“It is a good initiative by WCLA but we need to look into more details. Most of the constructions that are to be declared as heritage are private properties and we need to check that there are no land disputes going on. WCLA needs to see that there are no difficulties for the owner so that no agitation arises among the people of the Walled City,” HCB Chairman Yousaf Salahuddin said while speaking to Pakistan Today.
He also said that WCLA would seek opinions from experts in this regard and follow the rules and regulations of the WCLA Act and Heritage Properties Rules.
HCB member Faqir Syed Saifuddin said, “This is a good step and was much needed. I think this will be a test case because something like this is going to happen for the first time in the Walled City. I have suggested the WCLA to add Moran Sarkar Mosque, Saleh Kamboh Mosque and Fidia Khan Mosque as well in the upcoming lists. We need to preserve the properties we have left with us and I think we should move forward while declaring them as heritage”.
WCLA Building Control Deputy Director Mubashir Hassan said once a property was declared as heritage by WCLA, the owners were barred from making any additions or changes in the structure without an approval of the authority.
“We will also be holding public hearings and fulfilling legal formalities in line with the Heritage Rules 2017 of WCLA while declaring the properties as heritage,” he added.
WCLA Director General Kamran Lashari told Pakistan Today that it was necessary to save the existing heritage buildings in the city before they collapsed. “As soon as we start receiving funds, we will be taking up the conservation of the heritage buildings, but till then it is important to declare them as heritage properties and protect them.”
“The conservation and building control team of WCLA has conducted a survey in the Walled City and enlisted almost 247 heritage properties of high architectural merit. We will be declaring all these as heritage properties after presenting them before the Heritage Conservation Board of WCLA and fulfilling other legal formalities,” Lashari concluded.