Projects aimed at starting religious tourism once the pandemic subsided
LAHORE: The new corona virus pandemic has done much to stifle Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s enthusiasm to develop the country into a center for religious tourism.
While many countries seem no closer to lifting international travel bans, the PTI-led Punjab government plans to go ahead with schemes to renovate historic mosques and religious sites, The Express Tribune has learned.
According to officials of the Punjab Auqaf Department working for geo-maps and rebuilding sites with modern facilities will continue in the coming fiscal year. The government has set aside nearly Rs250 million for these projects in 2020-21, they revealed.
The computerized Auqaf geographic mapping alone will cost Rs 80 million, said the officials, adding that the exercise will be completed during the coming fiscal year.
Around Rs60 million will be spent on five projects in northern Punjab, officials told The Express Tribune. This includes restoration work at the Badshahi Mosque and water supply for ablution in Data Darbar. Both schemes will cost Rs10 million each, the same as the renovation of the Baba Farid shrine in Pakpattan and a scheme to facilitate worshipers at the Imam Ali-ul-Haq shrine in Sialkot. The projects also include the removal of the temple of Bibi Pakdaman, which will cost Rs 20 million.
More than Rs80 million will also be spent on various shrines in South Punjab, officials said. These include the holy sites of Bahauddin Zakariya, Sakhi Sarwar and Hajj Sher Council Chawli Mashaikh, jobs estimated to cost around Rs10 million each.
Renovation work will also be carried out at the Abdul Wahab Bukhari shrine in Muzaffargarh at a cost of Rs 20 million, they added.
In addition to various renovations and improvement schemes, the Punjab government has also set aside Rs10.5 million for proposals to automate collections in all shrines guarded by the Auqaf department.
The provincial government will also set aside 13 million Rs to water plants and trees and clean all roads around various locations.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Auqaf Punjab Minister Saeedul Hassan said his department had restored several hundred hectares of land from illegal residents throughout the province.
He added that in addition to the restoration work on religious sites, the government was committed to establishing a Sufi University in Lahore with sophisticated libraries and other modern facilities.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2020.