ISLAMABAD - Behind the main offices of Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) there stands an abandoned under-construction building. For one, who does not know, it’s not more than remains of a building devastated as a result of some natural calamity or war, rather it’s an auditorium named after great poet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

The construction work, worth Rs 39.690 million, of Faiz Ahmed Faiz Auditorium project was kicked off in July 2008. But despite passage of three-and-a-half-year, 50 per cent of the construction work is yet to be done. The half constructed structure is fast ruining and wearing a war-hit building look.

As per PC-I of the project, the auditorium building was scheduled to be completed until December 2009.

The construction work that was started in July 2008 was suspended in February 2009, owing to paucity of funds, is yet to be resumed. The concerned officials are blaming the administrative hurdles emerged in the aftermath of passage of the 18th amendment, as one of the core reasons behind the delay in completion of project.

After devolution of Ministry of Education in pursuance of 18th Amendment, PAL was given under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division but later the prestigious institute was transferred to newly created Ministry of National Heritage and Integration.

The time and again transfer of administrative control of the PAL to different authorities created several hurdles in the smooth working of this institution and it also affected the various projects including Faiz Ahmed Faiz auditorium.

The official further added that there would be a need to revise the PC-I of the project, as the estimated cost should escalate owing to the delay. He informed that so far government has released only Rs20 million for the project. 

An official of Ministry of National Heritage and Integration informed The Nation that soon a steering committee comprising of four members would be constituted to resolve the confronting issues in this regard.

He said the steering committee members would be included one representative each from Finance division, Planning division, Pak-PWD and PAL.  The committee would meet once in a month to oversee the pace of work of the project.

He expressed hope that the construction work would be resumed in second week of January. As per PC-I of the project the auditorium would have a big conference hall with a seating capacity of 400 people, two state-of-the-art committee rooms, a corridor that would serve as a museum, a dedicated studio of state run television and FM radio.

When contacted Tariq Shahid, spokesperson of PAL, he said that recently secretary, Ministry of National Heritage and Integration had visited the aforementioned auditorium building. “The Minister has assured his full support and cooperation from the ministry to complete the project,” Tariq added.