Blame game begins after fort turret collapse
* Culture secretary blames ‘substandard’ repairs by FAD
* FAD says PAD now manages the fort
* ‘2005 earthquake may have weakened tower’
By Hina Farooq
LAHORE: A blame game has started between the Punjab Archaeology Department (PAD) and the Federal Archaeology Department (FAD) after the northeastern turret of the seventh century Jahangir’s Quadrangle at the Lahore Fort collapsed on Monday.
PAD director general Shahbaz Khan started an inquiry soon after the turret collapsed and barred the public and the press from the spot. PAD officials said the turret collapsed because of rain. Culture secretary Ashfaq Gondal visited the Lahore Fort on Wednesday, inspected the turret and ordered the PAD DG to look into the issue and submit a report within seven days.
Gondal told Daily Times that the debris of the fallen structure suggested that it was dilapidated. He said he was told that the FAD had repaired the quadrangle before handing over control of the Lahore Fort to the Punjab government three years ago. He said there was a chance that the FAD had not repaired the turret in line with archaeological standards. He said there was also the possibility that the material used in the repair was “too good for the structure”. He said the FAD might be held responsible because it was still using that part of the quadrangle for its offices.
FAD director (Northern Circle) Saleemul Haq said his department had not made any major repairs to the quadrangle since 2002. He said the PAD had control of the fort for three years and any damage to the structure since then was the PAD’s responsibility. He said the fort was in good condition when the FAD handed it over to the Punjab government. He said the 2005 earthquake could have weakened the structure a bit and the PAD should have checked it.
The Punjab government had acquired control of the Lahore Fort and the Shalamar Gardens in 2004 after a long tug-of-war with the FAD. Soon after the changing of hands, the Punjab government allocated Rs 300 million for phase-wise renovation and conservation of each of these monuments.