Unesco allows train track in front of Shalamar Gardens

Lahore—The World Heritage Committee (WHC) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has advised Pakistani authorities to carry out and submit visual impact assessment of Shalamar Gardens, but allowed them to pass the Orange Line Metro Train project’s elevated track as per plan in front of this world heritage site.
According to senior officials, the go-ahead to Pakistani authorities was given in the 40th meeting of the committee held in Istanbul, Turkey, from July 10 to 17. Presided over by Lale Ulker, the WHC chairperson, the event was attended by 21 committee members, including Pakistan, and representatives of over 100 member states affiliated with Unesco.
“Though the meeting was scheduled to be held from July 10 to 20, its duration was squeezed following the failed coup attempt in Turkey. We reached back safely a couple of days ago after presenting our stance to the participants. We were finally allowed to pass the Orange Line track in front of the Shalamar Gardens after 13 of the 21 members voted in our favour,” Lahore Development Authority (LDA) Chief Engineer Asrar Saeed claimed while talking to media.
About the objections raised and the Pakistan authorities’ response that convinced majority of the members, the chief engineer, one of the members of the Pakistan delegation headed by Punjab Mass Transit Authority chief Sibtain Fazal Haleem, said the core concern of the committee was distance of the track from the gardens.
But we told them the distance is 41 metres (over 135 feet) from the main gate. Next they asked why the track was passing over the gardens’ hydraulic water works, which was again incorrect information, as the track was about 8.25 metres (over 27 feet) from the water works,” Saeed added.
He said the committee was told the track had been kept at a considerable distance from the gardens through a curve. When asked if the WHC mentioned keeping 200 feet away from the heritage sites under Pakistani laws, the official replied in the affirmative.—DNA

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