Archaeology Department plans to retrieve Lahore Fortís boundary garden from PHA
* Shalamarís Naqar Khana being given to private company on five-year contract
By Shoaib Ahmed
LAHORE: The Punjab Archaeology Department (PAD) plans to take back the Lahore Fortís outer garden from the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) because it could not maintain the garden alongside the Fortís boundary wall. The garden will be given to a private company on a five-year contract for maintenance and restoration, Oriya Maqbool Jan, the PAD director general told Daily Times on Monday.
He said that the 4-acre land of Naqar Khana at Shalamar Gardens would also be given to the private company for restoration.
Jan said that the Lahore Fortís outer garden was in bad condition and was not being maintained properly. The PAD, he said, was planning to hand over the garden and the Naqar Khana to the private company, which had done a commendable job in developing green areas at the Lahore Airport. He said that a presentation would soon be held at the Culture secretaryís office in this connection.
Some PAD sources, who asked not to be named, told Daily Times that the private company had written to the Punjab chief minister, showing their interest in developing the Naqar Khana but PAD asked them to first restore and maintain the Lahore Fortís circular garden. The PAD director general said that according to the restoration plan the outer garden would have only one entrance. He said that the company would also be responsible to attract sponsors for the gardenís development.
Jan said that the garden would host miniatures of several historical buildings like Jahangirís quadrangle, Shish Mahal, Masjid Wazir Khan and would also have a jogging track for locals.
He said that several platforms would be constructed on which amateur and professional groups would hold dance and music shows. He added that plaques containing the Lahore Fortís history would be placed outside the fence.
The Punjab government sources told Daily Times that the government was working on the development of historical monuments and several efforts had been made to beautify the Lahore Fortís surroundings. Sources said that the upcoming inauguration of a grand prix in the end of February, in which President General Pervez Musharraf and an Arab Sheikh would participate, was another reason to expedite the development and maintenance work.
Sources said that the PHA had been given Rs 3.1 million to plant new grass and lights in the garden and Rs 1.2 million had been given to the Water and Power Development Authority to lay electricity cables leading to the Fort underground.
The Federal Archaeology Northern Circle director told Daily Times that the outer garden had been placed under PHA supervision before he assumed charge in 2002.
Shabbir Ahmed, the PHA director general, told Daily Times that the Lahore Fortís circular garden was under PHAís supervision and was in poor condition for quite some time. He said that when the Punjab government took over the Lahore Fort and Shalamar Gardens, the chief minister ordered that their green areas be developed.
Ahmed said that PHA voluntarily took the responsibility to develop the circular garden outside Lahore Fort. He said that the PHA was developing it despite the fact that around 1,200 shops had encroached the garden. The PHA director general said that the PHA was given Rs 3.1 million to develop Hazoori Bagh and to add new flowerpots and lights.