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Governor’s House a burden on exchequer

Governor’s House a burden on exchequer

PESHAWAR: The old building of Peshawar’s Governor’s House, a reminiscent of colonial era, seems to have become a liability on the public exchequer as the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has been spending millions of tax payers money on its maintenance and preservation.

The century old structure perched on a mound does not carry any pride or significance for the people of this region except it occupies a status of a relic of Colonial era, which is not part of our history.

The taxpayers’ money is being spent just to provide comfort to the governor’s family otherwise the Governor’s House has no utility.

This is worth mentioning that a Governor’s House in Nathia Gali (Abbottabad) and cottages in almost every tribal agency of Fata have been properly maintained for the constitutional head of this poor province.

Extensive maintenance and repair work is in progress to preserve this dwindling structure, which officials said was about to collapse. The estimated cost of the building’s repairs, renovation and conservation is more than Rs80 million.

Experts from the University of Engineering and Technology Peshawar, National College of Arts (Lahore), KP department of archeology and consultants of a private company from Lahore have been engaged in repair and preservation work to protect the building.

Former Governor Sardar Mahtab Ahmad Khan in his last press conference had said Rs180 million had been spent on the maintenance and repairs of the building during the last five years.

He had also said the old portion of the Governor’s House was in bad condition and cracks had appeared in its structure despite the use of millions of rupees in the name of repairs.

Sardar Mahtab was in the office at the start of the repairs and preservation, which is still in progress.

The unending make-up of the building will eat up how much millions of rupees from the taxpayers’ money is a question, which needs to be answered. However, no one wants to speak on it.

Covered area of the Governor’s House sprawling over 28 acres is being expended by raising new structure. Every governor wants his own mark by initiating new construction, renovation and alteration.

A former governor ordered mirror work in the old Darbar Hall.

When retired Lt-General Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah assumed the office of governor, he ordered the removal of mirror work and got the hall back to its original shape.

He constructed another Jirga Hall and funds were provided from annual development plan for Fata.

Another governor had ordered to establish mini zoo.

Owais Ahmad Ghani when he was holding the office started construction of a monument to those who lost their lives in militancy. The monument was later left incomplete for unidentified reasons.

A former governor had disclosed that several precious items including some antiques had been missing from the Governor’s House and probably his predecessors had taken along these items before leaving the office. He had directed to make proper catalogue of all items in the Governor’s House to avoid theft of such items.

Significantly PTI chairman Imran Khan has been opposing the maintenance of palatial houses for governors. He publicly announced that the Governor’s Houses would be used for productive activities if his party came into power. However, his government in KP is spending hefty amount on the preservation of KP Governor’s House.

Apart from repair and renovation work a two-storey kitchen along with a basement is being constructed while old kitchen is also going through repair work.

According to the contractor, the faulty drainage system had caused severe damages to the old structure, which is being repaired.

He said Rs80 million had been allocated for repairs and construction of kitchen, while additional amount had been sanctioned for renovation.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2016

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