LAHORE – The Environment Department of City District Government Lahore (CDGL) on Friday sealed the 136-year-old office of Young Men Christian Association (YMCA), declaring its establishment as illegal.

Established in 1876, the building is a heritage monument that has been renovated regularly and is in a good condition. The CDGL Environment Department officials served a notice on the YMCA general secretary, claiming that the office building was established illegally and the administration expended the area without the departmental approval.

The notice also blamed overlooking the environmental issues during the expansion though the structure was constructed when there was no environment department. The notice said the YMCA had no parking space which is causing traffic nuisance on The Mall and the officials mentioned in the notice another allegation that the institute is discharging untreated sewage.

Talking to The Nation, YMCA General Secretary Samuel Pervez said that the association building is an important and historical building having a great importance in the history of the city. “The YMCA is an international institution that has been serving the people for the past 136 years. We have informed our head office in Geneva about the situation. Letters of condemnation have started pouring in from all over the world.

“We will be moving court against this foolish and irresponsible act. It has come as a shock for the YMCA members and Christian community in general. The CDGL suddenly declared such an important building illegal though the building was established even before the birth of the CDGL or municipality,” he added. He rejected all allegations mentioned in the notice as  false.

When contacted, District Coordination Officer Noorul Amin Mengal said he was oblivious of the issue. He, however, said he would probe the matter and take action according to the law. He promised if the action taken by the officials of Environment Department to seal the office is unjustified, he would de-seal the building immediately, declaring the notice or any legal action null and void. Meanwhile, the act of sealing the office has been widely condemned especially by Bishop Alexa6nder John Malik and Bishop Irfan Jameel.