A view of Liberty roundabout painted by the Punjab  government to promote beautification of the city. — White Star / M. Arif
A view of Liberty roundabout painted by the Punjab government to promote beautification of the city. — White Star / M. Arif

LAHORE: Civil society activists have rejected the city district administration’s proposal to change the name of Liberty Chowk to ‘Rainbow Square’ on pretext of the ongoing ‘Sohna Lahore’ activities.

“The Liberty Chowk in Gulberg is over 50 years old and its name is locally and internationally known. I am really surprised and sad to hear such a foolish step of changing its name and giving it a new name as Rainbow Square,” Dr Ajaz Anwar, the information secretary of the Lahore Conservation Society, deplored while talking to Dawn on Thursday.

“The Liberty Chowk and Liberty Market are basically a success story of several shopkeepers who remained steadfast despite losses for many years until their final success,” he said, demanding the provincial government to not to endorse the proposal of renaming the Liberty Chowk on pretext of beautification projects.

The city administration, led by the deputy commissioner, recently launched a project titled ‘Sohna Lahore,’ in collaboration with the private sector, including a famous paint company, to beautify various intersections, underpasses and roads. The administration also started beautifying the Liberty Chowk by painting the road around it in various colours and proposed renaming the roundabout.

However, the civil society criticised the proposal.

“Can changing name of Liberty Chowk give relief to the people? Besides, wherever the government changed names of spots and places, the people never acknowledged it,” retired Prof Nazish Attaullah, former principal of the National College of Arts, said.

“Most of the people still use the name Davis Road despite the fact the road was renamed as Sir Agha Khan Road. Drigh Road (Karachi) is still being called by its old name instead of Shahrah-i-Faisal. There are many other precedents.”

Ms Attaullah asked what benefit the public would get by such useless and cosmetic activities like changing names etc.

She urged the authorities to focus on improving economic situation and control price hike and unemployment and resolve the real civic issues of the people.

A spokesman for the city administration termed the proposal to rename the Liberty Chowk a part of the Sohna Lahore Project.

DC Mudassar Riaz Malik said it didn’t matter if the name of Liberty Chowk was changed.

“We are proposing the new name as Liberty Rainbow Square,” he added.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2020