=> LAHORE, Jan 24: The Punjab government has promulga
LAHORE, Jan 24: The Punjab government has promulgated an ordinance for the creation of an authority that will develop historic areas in the province, especially in the Walled City of Lahore, after finally considering the legal opinion that the functions it intends to perform fall under the purview of the local governments which it could only ‘borrow’ after prior approval of the local bodies concerned.
Those desiring the creation of the authority initially to develop the historic Walled City through joint funding by World Bank and Aga Khan Foundation, originally wanted to make it all powerful for performing its stated functions without any hindrance from any quarter.
But the law department had opined that functions and powers suggested for the proposed authority had been given to the local governments under the Local Government Ordinance, 2001. The authority could assume them only after an amendment to the ordinance but again this would render the local governments almost totally jobless.
The easiest way suggested was that the authority could borrow the functions after an agreement with the local government concerned.
Officials said on Thursday that the ordinance gave wide-ranging powers to the authority to develop historic areas, also suggesting heavy fines and imprisonment for those hindering its mandate. But the law also binds the body to “obtain prior approval of the local government concerned before performing a function which has been assigned to it under the Punjab Local Government Ordinance, 2001.” That meant the authority was now dependent on the local governments concerned for functioning, they said.
The Punjab Historic Areas Planning, Development and Regulation Ordinance provides for the constitution of the Punjab Historic Areas Authority to be headed by a director general, a civil servant not below the BS-21. The tenure of the office is four years, and the holder cannot stay beyond the age of 65 years.
The additional director general can also be a civil servant with varied experience of at least 15 years of public service.
The authority shall have powers to remove or have repaired or vacated dilapidated and dangerous private buildings in the operation areas. It shall also have powers to have removed or itself remove unauthorised buildings or their portions and determine street and building lines.
The law provides that no building shall be constructed or reconstructed in the areas taken over for development without the approval of a building plan by the authority. It may also prescribe the elevation, faÃ§ade and frontage of buildings in any street or portion of it with respect to architectural features.
It can also prescribe the use of public or private land, and terms and conditions on which a particular trade or occupation can be carried out there. It shall also notify and manage a monument in a historic area, and acquire a monument under control of the federal government.
It can declare a private building or work of historic, architectural, traditional, artistic or cultural value as protected, disallowing the owner or occupant to alter, repair, reconstruct or demolish it without any prior approval.
Construction, reconstruction, addition or alterations in a building without the permission of the authority could lead to fine up to Rs25,000 or imprisonment up to one year, or both. Continuation of the violation shall mean a further fine up to Rs25,000 per day if any violation continues despite an order of the authority.
The penalty for obstructing officers or officials shall include fine up to Rs50,000 or imprisonment up to 30 days, or both.
Violation of building rules shall lead to fine up to Rs100,000 or imprisonment up to one year, or both, or a further fine up to Rs10,000 a day for each day of violation continued despite an order of the authority.
Violation of any provision of the ordinance may lead to imprisonment up to one month, or fine up to Rs100,000, or both.
No court shall take cognizance of an offence under the ordinance unless the authority makes a complaint in writing.
The ordinance provides that the government may, in consultation with the Lahore High Court, designate a special judicial magistrate for a historic area to take cognisance of and try an offence under the law.
The authority may also authorise an officer to exercise powers of a police officer to arrest a person upon violation of the ordinance.
Subject to the Punjab Land Revenue Act, 1967, a revenue officer of a historic area shall maintain its land record in accordance with the orders of the authority, and he shall be subject to the control of the authority.
The ordinance also empowers the authority to acquire a piece of land.
An agency performing the function of the authority in a historic area, shall continue to perform till such time and extent as the authority may by notification specify.