ASIA/PAKISTAN - Churches in Lahore could be demolished to make way for new underground railway line

Tuesday, 8 March 2016 religious minorities   christianity   culture  

Lahore (Agenzia Fides) – A Number of sites and buildings of historic, artistic and religious value as well as several church buildings risk being demolished to make way for a new line of the underground railway planned and launched by the Lahore municipal administration, to upgrade services to meet the changed needs of public transport. Fides learned from local associations Christian and non-Christian, that it is feared the new subway may mean that thousands will be forced to leave their homes.
At least 25 affected sites could be demolished despite being protected as art treasures. These include places of worship such as the Presbyterian church of St Andrew in Naulakha, the Anglican Resurrection Church and the cemetery of Mominpura, of special importance for the Shiite Muslim community in Lahore.
An Institute for Disadvantaged Children that served 180 families with children with mental disabilities, has been demolished and the families are waiting to move the children to another school. According to the approved plan school and hospital buildings and homes, green areas on the train-line will be destroyed.
The 27km long Orange Line of the underground should be completed by October 2017. Civil society organisations say that the Punjab state government has failed to take into account of the human cost of moving thousands of people out of central densely populated areas: no compensation is foreseen for the people affected.
Farida Shaheed, former special UN Relator for Cultural Rights says “the destruction of these sites violates citizens’ rights and damages considerably the cultural heritage of this city”. According to NGO Christian Solidarity Worldwide “by building this railway line, the government of the state of Punjab is breaching international agreements that safeguard people’s human rights”. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 8/3/2016)