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18 Diciembre 2005

'World Heritage sites being given special attention'

SHOAIB AHMED

Daily Times (Pakistán) [Crónica]

Foto

The federal and Punjab governments have shown keen interest in preserving the heritage of Pakistan, especially sites included in the World Heritage, said Jorge Seqveira, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) director, at a one-day seminar on the Shalimar Gardens at Pearl Continental (PC) Hotel on Saturday.

He said that there had been increased concern to preserve heritage sites after the Shalimar Gardens and Lahore Fort were included in the ‘World Heritage in Danger' list in 1999. He said that UNESCO managed to collect funds with help of the Norwegian government and repaired the ceiling of the Shish Mahal. A master plan for the Lahore Fort had also been prepared, he said, adding that a project to preserve the Lahore Fort was launched in March 2003 and would be completed in October 2006.

The director said that UNESCO asked the Getty Foundation for funds to conduct a survey on the Shalimar Gardens, which would facilitate the preservation process. He said that the survey would help the Punjab government's work on the gardens.

He said the UNESCO team woking on the Lahore Fort project had excelled in competence and professionalism. "We have decided to deploy the same team at the Shalimar Gardens with a few more appointments in hydraulics, botanical studies and landscape, which were essential given the nature of the site," he added. He said that the study and master plan were almost complete. UNESCO was now working on the preservation plan, which was a prerequisite to get the implementation grant, he said.

The conservation plan was being shared with the Punjab government to prevent duplication because Punjab Culture Ministry Secretary Taimur Azmat Osman had several plans for the two sites in Lahore.

He said that UNESCO would submit an application with the Getty Foundation early next year to request funds for the preservation of the ‘shahi hamaam' and the eastern and western gateways of the gardens.

National College of Arts (NCA) Principal Sajida Wandal, who is also a member of the conservation plan, said that a Persian book mentioned that the Shalimar Gardens were based on seven levels, but the Punjab government have the book to confirm the claim. She said that nothing could be built within 200 feet of a World Heritage site according to the antiquity law, but the law was being violated in the case of the gardens.

The seminar at PC was held on the Shalimar Gardens' preservation plan and its participants included government officials, representatives of non-government organisations, experts, scholars and researchers. The seminar was aimed at getting the opinion of experts on the plan before handing it over to the Getty Foundation.

 

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