KARACHI, June 22: The National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA), present occupant of the Hindu Gymkhana, plans to carry out some construction work on the premises of the historical monument, it has been learnt.
The Karachi Building Control Authority has also shown its willingness to regularize not only the already constructed structures, but also the future constructions in the gymkhana, sources said.
The Seth Ramgopal Goverdhandas Mohatta Hindu Gymkhana is protected under the Sindh Cultural Heritage Protection Act. Nobody, including the owner, is allowed to carry out new construction, repairs, renovations in a building protected under the act, which prescribes long prison terms and heavy fines for violators.
Permission from the Advisory Committee on Cultural Affairs, which is headed by the Sindh Chief Secretary, is required before carrying out any constructions in a premises protected under the Act, the sources added.
The sources said that the issue of new constructions in the Hindu Gymkhana, an architectural gem, has surfaced now owing to the recent communications (exchange of letters) between the NAPA and the Sindh government. These constructions were earlier denied by the NAPA and Sindh Culture department.
The sources said that the Sindh Culture Department had handed over the Hindu Gymkhana to NAPA many months back without even determining the terms and conditions or finalizing rent/lease details etc. The NAPA, soon after taking over the possession, started new constructions in the premises, without getting the mandatory permission from the advisory committee.
The KBCA had issued a notice to the NAPA to stop the illegal construction work, but the notice was later withdrawn.
The sources said that with this new communication between the KBCA and NAPA, it has been proved that new construction had taken place and it needs to be regularized.
The sources said that a KBCA official, Ahmadullah Sharif, in his communication on the subject of “Hindu Gymkhana” to the NAPA chief Zia Mohyeddin, said, “KBCA is very pleased to cooperate with the academy on the regularization of additions made, or, are likely to be made in the near future within the Master Plan, to making Hindu Gymkhana a premier institute of Art and Craft.
“As such you are requested to forward the plan as under: a) old building plan details in black; b) additions made since your take-over in blue; c) additions which are projected within Master Plan in green. We assure of our full cooperation towards your undertaking,” concludes Ahmadullah Sharif of the KBCA.
The sources said that KBCA had written the letter to the NAPA chief following a letter of Mr. Mohyeddin to the chief secretary, in which the NAPA chief had mentioned the “regularization of construction at Hindu Gymkhana – KBCA (ex post facto sanction and subsequent construction as per Master Plan).”
The sources said that the NAPA chief has however not yet submitted any plans as to what he intends to do with the Hindu Gymkhana.