LAHORE - Civil society and environment activists said on Tuesday the Punjab government was violating an LHC judgement on Lakshmi Building at St Andrew's Church because work on the Orange Line Metro Train near the building was under way.

According to activist Maryam Hussain, development work is under way within 200 feet of St Andrew's Church boundary wall.

Lakshmi Building is one of the 11 heritage sites where the Lahore High Court has stayed work on the metro train. St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at Nabha Road was built by the British in 1899 for Christian employees of the Railways. It was designed in the Neo-Gothic style of architecture.

Civil society representatives demanded that work on Orange Metro Train project near heritage sites should be stopped immediately.  Maryam said, “They first remove drains and then do construction on these points. During an investigation into violation of the stay order last year, the commission had said that nothing could be disturbed within 200 feet radius of a heritage site.”

According to a judicial commission report on violations, there were at least four sites where the government was definitely violating the LHC judgement”, she said.

She said, “We cannot buy Punjab government’s claim that Unesco endorsed Pakistan’s stance on state of conservation of historical sites in World Heritage Committee’s (WHC’s) 41st session. We have repeatedly said that it is a complete lie that ‘WHC has neither objected on the present alignment of the train’s track outside Shalimar Garden.” The heritage sites around which LHC stayed development work of OLMT include Shalimar Gardens, Gulabi Bagh Gateway, Buddhu ka Awa, Chauburji, Zebunnisa’s Tomb, Lakshmi Building, General Post Office, Aiwan-i-Auqaf, Supreme Court’s Lahore Registry, St Andrews Presbyterian Church on Nabha Road and Baba Mauj Darya Bukhari’s shrine. Laskhsmi Building was built in 1935 for commercial and residential purposes and later the Punjab government protected the building under Punjab Special Premises (Preservation) Ordinance of 1985.

Many critics of the Punjab government termed completion of Orange Line Metro Project before next general elections a real challenge for the Punjab government led by the PML-N.

It is pertinent to mention that the Punjab government had accelerated construction work on all 11 elevated stations of OLMT to complete the project on time. The 27km project stretches from Ali Town to Dera Gujjran.