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LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Tuesday summoned findings of the Heritage Conservation Board which it made before approving establishment of a restaurant at the Lahore Fort, a world heritage site.

During hearing of a petition against the construction of the eatery, Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah posed a number of queries to the counsel for the Walled City Lahore Authority (WCLA) regarding permission under the law for carrying out such activities on a heritage property.

Defending the construction work, WCLA’s counsel Khurram Chughtai said it was not a new construction but restoration of “Royal Kitchen”. He said the authority wanted to afford an opportunity to people to experience cuisine and food serving as it happened to be during Mughal era.

The chief justice observed that the court wanted to know the law relied upon by the government for carrying out such activity at the Lahore Fort. The authority’s counsel sought time to satisfy the court on this point. However, he said all the work in question was in fact conservation and adaptation process which was allowed under the law. He said the Heritage Conservation Board had approved the project.

He further said the renovation work was under the Unesco-Operational Guidelines and the International Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites. He said there would be no demolition or destruction of the existing structures in any manner rather same are being conserved to the original level.

Petitioner’s counsel Amir Saeed Rawn pointed out that the authority had been misleading the court on the matter. He said new construction had been carried out in violation of the laws and also presented photographs of the construction work.

Chief Justice Shah adjourned further hearing till Dec 11 and directed the WCLA’s counsel to submit the findings and approval of the board.

Syed Abdal Zaidi had filed the petition alleging that the authority had allowed construction/alteration at the Lahore Fort for establishment of a restaurant. He said it would damage the fort which was also a world heritage site.

The petitioner submitted that the authority by doing so had violated the Antiquities Act (amendment) 2012. He asked the court to take action against those responsible and stop it from establishing any restaurant there.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2017