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‘Basant possible if safety ensured’

December 15, 2012

LAHORE, Dec 14: The City District Government of Lahore may allow celebration of Basant in some selected localities of the provincial capital in January or February while the administration will take a final decision in this regard after it succeeds in making proper arrangements for the safety of citizens.

The city district administration had formally started its homework by handing over the matter to the Dilkash Lahore Project Committee (DLPC), a body tasked with submitting recommendations on various issues, including naming/renaming of roads and intersections, rehabilitation of British-era buildings on The Mall and other places and building consensus on making certain amendments, if required, in the existing by-laws for special premises and heritage of the city.

The DLPC, in its meeting on Thursday, had constituted a sub-committee, ‘observing Kite-Flying Day Committee’, to submit its recommendations to the CDGL as well as the main committee in this regard.

According to a notification, the sub-committee is headed by Khwaja Salman Rafique (adviser to the chief minister on health) and comprises DIG operations Rai Tahir, civil society representative Yousaf Salahuddin, analyst Iftikhar Ahmad, chief traffic officer Sohail Chaudhry, DCO Noorul Amin Mengal, civil society activist Shaista Pervaiz Malik, academic Salima Hashmi, Badshahi Mosque imam Dr Allama Khubair, Jamia Naeemia representative Maulana Raghib Naeemi, CDGL’s legal adviser Mian Iftikhar and representatives of the Lahore Kite-Flying Association.

“The sub-committee will initiate deliberations/consensus for the possibility of observing Basant in Lahore by proposing appropriate measures to ensure human safety. The committee in this regard shall present its recommendations to the DLPC in a meeting scheduled to be held on December 22,” a notification issued by the CDGL stated.

Officials said the committee had also been asked to carefully review all facts regarding previous Basant festivals, loss of human life, verdicts of the apex court, economic impact on the city, problems of kite shops’ owners, loss of foreign exchange, tourism and other issues.

“Actually the Basant festival was banned after repeated casualties of the youth and deteriorated law and order in the city.

And though we are serious about reviving this mega festival, we want to finalise all arrangements first to ensure human safety once we finally decide to do so,” a senior CDGL official told Dawn on Friday.He said if the committee gave a go-ahead to the departments concerned to hold the festival, the CDGL in collaboration with the DLPC would identify certain areas/localities where the festival could be observed. “The CDGL will not allow holding this festival in all parts of the city, as it will only be allowed (if decided) within the Walled City, open places outside the city (near Ravi River), big farm houses outside the city (situated on Raiwind Road, Multan Road, Link Canal, Bedian Road, Sundar or other places/roads),” the official explained.

He said the CDGL would also impose Section 144 to ban kite flying in the rest of the city in case the sub-committee recommended holding the event.

TRUCKS: The Truck Owners’ Association requested the CDGL to shift all truck stands near Sundar Industrial Estate to avoid goods transport in the city.

In a meeting at the Town Hall, the association’s office-bearers asked the DCO to direct the officials concerned to ensure entry of goods transport through alternate routes keeping in view the on-going development work in the city.

The additional collector (revenue) on the occasion was tasked with coordinating and resolving all issues with the traffic police and other departments concerned in this regard. He was also asked to submit a proposal regarding shifting of truck stands near Sundar.

CLERICS: A seminar was organised by the CDGL at Badshahi Mosque to gather support from clerics for the upcoming polio drive from Dec 17.

Speakers on the occasion appealed to the clerics to accompany polio teams and motivate those refusing administration of polio drops to their children.

Various clerics assured the government of their full support in the campaign.

FINES: The District Road Transportation Authority (DRTA) impounded 21 intercity buses for overcharging, overloading and using substandard CNG/LPG cylinders.

According to the DRTA secretary, special squads also cancelled route permits of four buses besides getting FIRs registered against some transporters for violating government instructions in this regard.

RAIDS: Price control magistrates got cases registered against four shopkeepers for overcharging, hoarding and selling substandard commodities in open markets.

The officials also imposed fines worth Rs47,300 on dozens of shopkeepers.