ISLAMABAD: The federal government has entrusted the Punjab government with the task to conserve and restore the building of the General Post Office (GPO) Murree to its original form.

With the technical support of the Urban Unit of the Planning and Development Department of Punjab, the federal government has designed the project to conserve and restore the building to its original shape.

The project is expected to cost Rs50 million.

Though the Pakistan Post owns the building, it has requested the federal government to outsource the restoration project.

The planning and development department would release the amount as a supplementary grant from the current fiscal budget.

The project is part of the prime minister’s programme for the beautification of the picturesque summer hills.

The beautification plan also includes the restoration of the environment of Murree originally conceived by the British as a hill station and resort.

The prime minister has directed that the project implementation should start by April and completed in two phases — first phase by October this year and the second by April 2015.

The historic GPO building has undergone numerous interventions since it was built by the British in 1867.

Today, its façade is completely different from the original one.

In 1970, the façade was torn down in the name of modernisation and the original façade destroyed.

The construction of high-rise buildings in its vicinity has further deteriorated the environment.

Expertise of the National College of Arts (NCA), Lahore, has also been sought in the conservation of the building.

The implementation plan given by the Urban Unit, which will be designed by consultants, will form a reliable basis for planning the long-term sustainable conservation of the building.

The renovation plan entails removal of the existing roof trusses, which are post-1970, and some portions of the front façade and verandahs built after 1970 besides rebuilding the façade including the verandahs in its original form as it was in 1910.

This will include detailed masonry and woodworks along with intricate detailing.

It has been decided to lay the building floors in marble since no evidence of the original flooring was visible today.

The original timber false ceilings will be restored.

The entire roof of the building will be removed and replaced with the original design.

The GPO building is situated at the beginning of The Mall.

This is where the Murree Mall started and was originally developed till the church, both being prominent old landmarks.

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