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Shopping mall, five star hotel to be built in Saddar

Shopping mall, five star hotel to be built in Saddar

RAWALPINDI: The Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) has called expressions of interest for the construction of a shopping mall and a five star hotel where the more than a century old Odeon Cinema, Cantonment Library and Shah Baloot Park are on The Mall.

A senior RCB official told Dawn that the RCB had decided to raze down the old cinema, library and park and has asked companies to submit expressions of interest before June 16 for the construction of a shopping plaza and a five star hotel and that a three storey underground parking, a digital library and a Cineplex cinema will also be established.

He said the RCB will select a company which will design, construct and operate the project with its own expenses and hand it over to the cantonment board.

The official said the expressions of interest were called after a meeting of the Lansdowne Trust Property Board led by Station Commander Syed Hassan Raza though the RCB has not yet changed the status of the land.

The trust was established in the name of Lord Henry Petty Fitzmaurice, Marquees of Lansdowne who was the viceroy and governor general of India from 1884 to 1894. The cinema, library and park were established to provide educational and recreational facilities to the residents of Rawalpindi Cantonment.

The cinema, park, library and the Rawalpindi Cantonment Offices belong to the trust which was established on Dec 5, 1891 by two Sikh brothers Sardar Kirpal Singh Rai Bahadur and Sardar Sujan Singh Rai Bahadur.

A member of the trust told Dawn that under the law, a 100 year old building has to be declared a national heritage the razing down of which is a crime.

He said the RCB wanted to construct a mall on the site to earn money when it had not obtained permission from Military Lands and Cantonments or from the federal government.

“Because the land of the cantonment and military is owned by the government, permission from the federal government and the ministry of defence is necessary for starting the project,” he explained.

He said the RCB had wanted to convert an old tanga stand into flower shops two years ago to which military estates office had objected and the project is still incomplete. He said changing of the purpose of the land in cantonment areas is not possible under the Cantonment Act 1924 and that the razing down of old buildings that are national heritage will create problems for the civic body.

The RCB should improve the tax collection system and improve the service system so the civic body can earn more, he said and that the board was looking to make commissions from such projects because it is short on money.

Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2017

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