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Beautification ruins heritage buildings on Karachi’s Burns Road

KARACHI: The government is all set to make the iconic Burns Road traffic-free from Friday but the ‘beautification’ has destroyed the façade of heritage buildings as part of the initiative to renovate the famous food street.

District West officials awarded the contract to an outdoor company RoadTrip which ended up painting the pre-partition historic buildings in different colours. The action is illegal as it requires permission from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage. 

The Sindh government has set up a committee for the restoration of heritage buildings and wants the old facade of the buildings restored soon as some of them are heritage sites. Sindh Culture Minister Syed Sardar Shah took notice and ordered the committee headed by the director-general of the Sindh’s antiquities and archaeology department to submit a report on the matter.

It was earlier ordered that the roads would be closed for traffic from January 10 but it is now expected to commence from January 15. The area is busy throughout the day as one road leading towards the Sindh Secretariat has been closed for security concerns. Another street has been closed due to the People’s Square which has increase traffic on Burns Road.

While speaking to MM News, residents and shopkeepers expressed disappointment over the repainting and said the government should have restored the dilapidated buildings before taking the initiative.

They said the protection of the heritage buildings is their responsibility since generations but the repainting has spoiled the grandeur of the heritage and the historic look. They said the grill of the balcony was damaged and plaster on walls would occasionally fall, leading in minor injuries.

They said that local residents would be affected due to the closure of the street for traffic. They said an unknown company was given the contract for beautification which has ruined the heritage buildings. They also complained that the closure of the street would further the traffic situation.

In December last year, the Sindh government formed a 10-member committee for the renovation of Burns Road food street. The committee was tasked to propose the development and beautification of Burns Road. This includes patchwork, paintwork on the façade of buildings, timely cleanliness, resolving sewerage issues, installing standard size furniture and signboards, and ensuring a traffic-free street in the evening.