LAHORE - The Lahore Development Authority plans to construct a sewerage pumping station on the land beside the Cathedral Church of the Resurrection, famously known as Lahore Cathedral.

The church authorities are not ready to surrender the land at any cost and have moved Lahore High Court in this regard.

The project director of LDA wrote a letter on March 11, 2016 to the Bishop of Lahore Rt Rev Irfan Jamil, Cathedral Close The Mall, for acquisition of Cathedral School ground beside the church on McLeod Road to build sewerage pumping station for Orange Line Metro Train Project.

The letter said “some part of the open area of the Cathedral school situated at Macleod Road has to be acquired for the pumping station of underground stretch of OMT”. It requested Cathedral authorities to allow them to carry on the construction work in ‘best public interest’.

It requested that three-kanal land be handed over for project, the boundary wall of length about 40 meters has also to be demolished during construction activities.

The Orange Line’s 27.1-km long track will have 25.4 km elevated via duct, whereas 1.7 km will be constructed underground via cut and cover method.

The Cathedral Church in reply to the Project Director Package-1, LOLMT and LDA on March 14, 2016, clarified that the land do not belong to the Cathedral School but it belongs to Cathedral Church which is managed by a registered body Church of Pakistan Lahore Diocesan Council (COPLDC).

On March 22, 2016, the Cathedral Church gave detailed reply to provincial government. “Owing to age, structure and architecture the Cathedral Church ranks among historical churches of Sub-continent. The whole building and premises of the church were not only structure of bricks but icon of love, tranquillity and a cradle of peace,” it stated.

The church clarified that the seemingly abandoned area was used for church related activities, community based functions and large religious gatherings that could not be held inside the church. A three kanal ground space is also used for playground for schoolchildren, according to the church’s reply.

“The church regretfully represses its reluctance to part with its land required for this project and request that space for the proposed pumping station should be looked for at some other appropriate place,” the church authorities said.

Dean Lahore Cathedral and District Superintendent Lahore Rev Shahid Mehraj told The Nation that Cathedral’s land is very much sacred to the members of Christian community.

“The church congregation is very much disturbed to hear the news about building a pumping station here. Christian community strongly condemns this move for making sewerage pumping station where all the waste of neighbouring areas would be stationed,” Rev Mehraj said.

The Lahore High Court has stopped LDA from acquiring the land or demolishing any property and fixed the next date of hearing on April 18. Every Sunday the Christian community holds peaceful protest outside the Lahore Cathedral. “We have decided not to stage protest on roads. We do it peacefully inside the church compound. We believe the Almighty has strange way of doing things and this issue would soon be resolved,” Rev Shahid said.

Under Section 6 of Land Acquisition Act 1894, land attached to any religious place is excluded from the notification issued from the government to acquire land.

Lahore Cathedral was construction was started in 1877 and it was completed in 1887. The building was made in Neo-Gothic style of the architecture and famously for his stained glass windows, pipe organ, and a clock which dates back to 1862.

Architect John Oldrid Scott was given task to make a building worthy of Lahore, a city known for grand buildings built under Mughal rule. No government grant was used to build this church. It was built by using people’s donations.

Under Section 6 of Land Acquisition Act 1894, land attached to any religious place is excluded from the notification issued from the government to acquire land