–Punjab Archaeology Department issues notice to building’s owner, asking him to take immediate steps for its conservation, maintenance
LAHORE: The Punjab Archaeology Department has issued a notice to the owner of the famed Ghulam Rasool Building, directing him to take immediate steps for conserving the building from decay as the building is a part of Lahore’s heritage and is protected by the special premises ordinance.
This development comes amid rumours that the building may be demolished owing to its decaying structure, raising concerns among the masses as the building continues to be a prominent landmark in the heart of the city.
The notice, a copy of which is available with Pakistan Today, was issued on July 23, 2019 by the director general of the archaeology department to Chaudhry Zahid Moeen, the owner of the building. The notice reiterates that the building is a heritage site and the recent rains in Lahore had caused significant damage to its infrastructure.
The notice clearly states that if the government finds that a heritage site is not being taken care of or no specific measures are taken for its conservation, the government is fully powered to direct the owner to ensure its protection. The notice mentions that the owner had already been directed to take measures to prevent the building from decaying but no steps had been taken in this regard. The notice further mentions that the owner has been directed to take immediate steps to conserve and restore the damaged portions of the building within 30 days.
The building is special to Lahore’s architectural heritage. Speaking about the building’s history, Tania Qureshi, a historian, said, “The Ghulam Rasool Building was completed in 1916 and was owned by Haji Chaudhry Ghulam Rasool Tarar, one of the richest tycoons of Lahore. Although he was of humble origins, he greatly helped the British overcome opposition in 1857, for which he was generously rewarded.” It is worth mentioning that the building also houses Ferozsons, one of the oldest bookshops of Lahore.
On July 16, heavy rains had seriously damaged the building with a great chunk of its upper portion falling down as debris. Two days later, the district administration had inspected the building and after declaring the structure as a possible safety hazard, sealed it to prevent any untoward incident. It had also informed the archaeology department about the building’s condition, prompting the latter to issue a notice to the owner.
Meanwhile, there were reports that Lahore Conservation Society (LCS) was planning a protest outside the building over rumours of its demolition. However, the rumours were rebuffed by LCS Convener Imrana Tiwana, who said that Lahore’s assistant commissioner had assured her that the concerned departments would take immediate action for conserving the building. She said that the conservation society would still stage a demonstration to prompt the authorities to speed up efforts for its conservation.
Advocate Azhar Siddiqui told this scribe that he would personally file a petition against the administration’s negligence of heritage. “The building is protected under Special Premises (Preservation) Ordinance, 1985, why is it then that no preventive measures were taken?” he asked, adding that the archaeology department should share the details of the surveys conducted for the protection of historical buildings.
He further said that it appears that the authorities have taken no serious steps towards conserving the heritage of Lahore.
Pictures by Zubair Mehfooz