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CHINIOT: After four years of dormancy, the Chiniot Gymkhana Club has elected its board of governors (BoG). The abandoned building is now undergoing a transformation, thanks to contributions from its members.

Established in 2019 by then deputy commissioner (DC) Aman Anwar Kidwai, the club replaced the nonfunctional Chenab Officers Club, which dated back to the 1980s. Registered under the Societies Act, 1860, the new club aimed to build a state-of-the-art facility housing a gymnasium, a mini cinema, a swimming pool, and indoor and outdoor dining facilities.

The initial plan attracted local elites, with around 100 people securing membership by paying Rs100,000 each. The first BoG oversaw the construction in 2019, but the work faced setbacks when DC Kidwai was transferred. His successor, Muhammad Riaz, halted the project due to the absence of a legal contract between the municipal committee (land owner) and the club.

In the coming months, funds were depleted in utility bills and employee salaries. Members refused to pay monthly membership fees, which led to the termination of employees. The abandoned building served as a Covid-19 vaccination centre in 2021-22 and later as a centre for Ehsaas programme payments. Valuable furniture, fixtures, and gym equipment were left outdoors and were mostly stolen.

Misuse of electricity resulted in defaulted bills, leading to the disconnection of power supply in 2022 by the Faisalabad Electricity Supply Company.

Incumbent DC Muhammad Asif Raza has revived the club, ordering the clearance of irrelevant material, cleanliness, and junk removal. Members renewed their memberships during the first annual general meeting of the club in October, pledging an additional Rs200,000 each for the club’s reconstruction.

Members also contributed human, financial, and material resources to restore facilities like lawn tennis and badminton. Ongoing efforts include the establishment of a pool room, dining hall, kitchen, and gymnasium. The first BoGs, chaired by DC Raza as the club president, includes Sardarzada Abbas Haider, Hafiz Naeem, Zulfiqar Ali, and Aurang Zeb, with Syed Mujtaba Kazmi as a member and secretary.

The club has signed a 10-year lease agreement with the municipal committee, which will ensure the consistent operation of the Gymkhana building.

DC Raza said the club, once completed, would providing healthy sports, recreational, and dining facilities for the members, including officers posted in the district from other districts and provinces.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2023

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