Pollution damaging beauty of Fort wall – Daily Times 9 September
* Mughal Emperor Jahangir initiated the wall construction and it was completed during reign of Shah Jahan in 1631-32 AD
* Wall painting embellished with panels of tile mosaics and fresco paintings
* Mosaic depicts variety of fashions worn by people of Mughal era
By Abdul Manan
LAHORE: Recent permission for parking outside the Punjab Archaeology Department (PAD), adjacent to the Lahore Fort gate near the Samadhi Maharanjit Singh, has damaged one of the Fort’s painted walls due to the emission of smoke from the parked vehicles, sources told Daily Times on Monday.
According to government statistics, the parking stand, adjacent to the Shershah Wali plot, was once a beautiful garden under the Parking and Housing Authority.
The wall’s construction was initiated by Mughal Emperor Jahangir and completed during the reign of Shah Jahan in 1631-32 AD. It represents a series of tiled montage panels, which historically are amongst the world’s most spectacular sites. It is a remarkable amalgamation of unique designs. It is embellished with panels of tile mosaics and fresco paintings and is 450 metres in length and 17 metres high
The decorations are between two cornices, which are divided into a double row of differently-sized arched recesses. The fresco paintings are carried out in the arched recesses, while the spandrels are tastefully decorated with tile mosaics, displaying men, fairies, elephants, lions, dragons, scenes of animal fights, men playing polo, and numerous other games. The human figures on the wall give evidence of the fashion custom of that time, from the clothing worn by royalty to those of servants and gladiators.
Sources said that even though the parking stand was constructed for visitors and employees of the Fort, the coaches of the Badami Bagh bus stand are also utilising the space. They said that the smoke emitted from the vehicle engines were directly damaging the wall and ruining its beauty.
PAD Director Muhammad Shahbaz, when questioned about the environmental pollution, defended the parking stand by saying it was a necessary requirement for the visitors of the Lahore Fort.
He urged the removal of the GT Road to save historical monuments, adding that even though the GT Road and the parking stand are at a considerable distance, the stand should not be abolished.
NGO Eco Watch Trust President Imran Haider, who five years ago filed a case in the Environmental Tribunal (ET) about environmental hazards to monuments, said that the ET had passed a judgment regarding the parking stands near monuments to be prohibited.
He said that his appeal was to preserve the monuments in general, claiming the parking stand to be the worst form of threat to the wall, adding that it should be restored back to being a mini-garden.
An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spokesman told Daily Times that the EPA would ask the Environment Department of the City District Government Lahore (CDGL) to submit a report about the parking stand. He said that he would ask the CDGL to take action against the PAD for not saving the monuments from the hazardous effect of the vehicles.
He said that the EPA, seven years ago, had suggested the provincial government to remove the Badami Bagh Bus stand in order to protect the Lahore Fort from the smoke and dust of the buses. He said removal of the bus stand would help protect the Fort.