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KARACHI, May 8: As ‘illegal’ construction work in the historical building of Sindh Assembly was nearing completion on Tuesday, the culture department claimed that it had taken timely action and advised the law department and works and services department to stop the work.

The construction work, which was initiated in two rooms of the law department in the assembly building in alleged violation of heritage law, continued despite being highlighted in the media last month.

The pre-partition Sindh Assembly building is a protected site under the Sindh Cultural Heritage Protection Act, which bans construction and alteration in a protected site without prior permission from the advisory committee on cultural affairs and prescribes long prison terms and heavy fines for violators.

During a visit to the construction site on Tuesday, it emerged that woodworking was under way and construction workers were busy putting the finishing touches to the rooms on the first floor of the assembly building. However, some cement blocks and other construction material placed there indicated that some work was yet to be carried out.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the culture department stated: “It has taken timely action and advised the law department and the works and services departments to immediately stop the alleged construction/alterations and remove the additions made in the notified heritage building of Sindh Assembly.

“The departments concerned have been duly advised against the alleged violation of heritage law and have been asked to comply with all formalities in order to ensure that the Heritage Preservation Act is followed in letter and spirit.”

Pucca Qila

The culture department also claimed that it had taken up the matter related to ‘illegal’ construction of a gymnasium in Pucca Qila, Hyderabad, with relevant authorities.

The construction was being carried out with the MNA funds allocated by Muttahida Qaumi Movement lawmaker Salahuddin.

Pucca Qila, built in 1768, is protected under the Antiquities Act, 1975, which bans such activities in a protected site and prescribes imprisonment and heavy fines for violators.

“The alleged violation of the heritage law has been taken up with planning and development department and works and services department.

“Besides, the Hyderabad commissioner and the municipal corporation administrator have been requested to stop the construction in Pucca Qila, Hyderabad.

“The executing agency of the alleged projects has been directed to follow the provisions of the heritage law and complete all necessary formalities for construction/alteration,” said the department.