RAWALPINDI: The Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) has started improving the outer look of historical Raja Bazaar in coordination with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Raja Bazaar is the historic urban centre of Rawalpindi, comprising a multitude of bazaars. It has a strategic location with a mix of commercial and semi-residential areas and spatially forms a juncture of six major roads at Fawwara Chowk.

The diverse and culturally rich urban centre is, however, fraught with problems such as high density, unplanned land use, traffic congestion, visual clutter, navigational problems due to poor signage, weak housing infrastructure and lack of tourism despite its rich cultural history.

Project will give roadmap for area’s socioeconomic development, RDA chairman says

The project will lay out a strategic roadmap for socioeconomic development of the area. This roadmap includes suggestions for increasing accessibility, promoting heritage conservation and tourism to develop a place-based identity and improving livability standards.

PC-I of the renovation has been finalised at a cost of Rs74 million.

RDA Chairman Tariq Mehmood Murtaza told Dawn that basically they wanted to improve Raja Bazaar for tourists.

He said the RDA would introduce a pollution-free bus service for visitors to the bazaar to mitigate traffic congestion.

“The bazaar will be turned into pedestrian streets in the evening so people could visit the area to see the culture of the Potohar region and historical Raja Bazaar and also go to the food street which will be established in Bhabara Bazaar from Murree Road to Sarafa Bazaar,” he said.

He said the food street was being constructed on the pattern of the old city.

He said the major work like renovation of the facade of old buildings and brick soling would be done in the old downtown as per original historic pattern besides uplifting public sitting areas and introducing uniform signage of all shops.

He said work to shift all electricity, telecom services and cable wires underground had been started and soon installation of streetlights, rehabilitation of storm drains, sewage and water supply lines would be started.

The RDA chief said to improve the cultural sites and construct the food street, the civic agency would engage the Walled City Authority (WCA) Lahore and its Director General Kamran Lashari will soon visit Rawalpindi to inspect the sites.

He said the WCA had vast experience of improving the outlook of Lahore and the RDA would get benefit from its experience in this regard.

Meanwhile, the Rawalpindi Metropolitan Corporation (RMC) started work on the conservation of Sujan Singh Haveli to promote cultural tourism and boost local economy.

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2021

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