ISLAMABAD, June 26:  The Unesco’s World Heritage Committee on Tuesday decided to remove Lahore Fort and Shalimar Gardens from the ‘List of World Heritage in Danger’ while recognising the success of the government in improving the conservation of the sites.

The ‘List of World Heritage in Danger’ maintained by Unesco. It is designed to inform the international community of threats to the heritage sites.

The decision to remove Lahore Fort and Shalimar Gardens from the ‘World Heritage List in Danger’ was taken by the World Heritage Committee which began its session at Saint Petersburg (Russian Federation) on Monday.  The committee which meets once in a year is responsible for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, defines the use of the World Heritage Fund and allocates financial assistance upon requests from state parties. Pakistan is not the member of the 21-member committee.

Successful measures have been taken to remove the threats to the brilliant palaces, mosques and gardens of Lahore; according to the World Heritage Committee which inscribed this outstanding testimony of Mughal civilisation on the World Heritage List in 1981.

The problems including urban encroachment had warranted the inscription of the site on the World Heritage List in Danger in 2000 on the request of the Pakistani government. Many of the site’s monuments have since been restored. Better drainage and planning have also improved the preservation of the site’s external walls and solved problems of dampness.

These are two masterpieces from the time of the brilliant Mughal civilisation, which reached its height during the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan. The fort contains marble palaces and mosques decorated with mosaics and gilt. The elegance of these splendid gardens, built near the city of Lahore on three terraces with lodges, waterfalls and large ornamental ponds, is matchless.

Pakistan reported to the committee that the adoption of the Federal Antiquity Act 1975 by the Punjab government had helped enforce laws and regulations. Encroachments are being effectively controlled. The removal of the rim market and bus stand is in progress as discussions are being carried out with the city government authorities to identify a suitable place for their relocation. It also reported on the development of a parking and public utility area, on land acquired in front of Naqqar Khana at the south east corner to resolve parking and general facilities.

A Unesco mission has reported to the committee that significant progress has been made in the conservation of the structures and of the external walls and improvements in the overall state of conservation of the property.

It highlighted the importance of re-establishing the training institute to ensure capacity building and bridge existing gaps in technical staff, conservators and craftsmen.

The mission also noted that adequate presentation and interpretation measures should be put in place and suggested that conservation works, which have been documented, could serve to illustrate the challenges being faced in the preservation of the property.

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