Heritage in danger

- DAWN

Jun 25, 2018-

What had for a long time seemed inevitable, finally appears set to pass. The Lahore Fort and the city’s historic Shalamar Gardens are to be placed on the World Heritage in Danger list of the World Heritage Committee. The two sites are considered to be at risk because of the construction of Lahore’s Orange Line Metro train system (which will pass through the front of the south entrance of the Shalamar Gardens), as are other historic places in the city. Months ago, the Supreme Court of Pakistan gave the opinion that the metro line construction would have an irreversible impact on the values relating to the artistic and aesthetic accomplishments exemplified by the fort and the gardens, but the city administration chose to press ahead after offering sops to conservationists. The Orange Line project has invited a lot of censure on the grounds of conservation and heritage protection, and the administration’s response has been a great deal less than exemplary. There have been prevarications and obfuscations, and assurances of care that have at times appeared merely cosmetic, resulting in the widespread belief that the city managers are, in their haste to produce works of ‘development’, prepared to pay any and every cost. This perception must be altered, and it can only be done by those pacing the corridors of power. Development is essential for the growth of Pakistan’s towns and cities, in fact for the entire country; but if it is not underpinned by an affinity to past history and glory, it will prove to be a mere chimera.

Published: 25-06-2018 07:52

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