The renovation project of the historic Masjid Mahabat Khan has been well behind the schedule even three years after the start of work due to technical difficulties.
Talking to The Express Tribune an official of the Archeology Department said that a dome of the mosque was badly damaged and dislocated in earthquake and despite all the efforts of the department and contractors, it could not be restored. He said that there were technical problems in the project.
“There are other difficulties in the restoration of the mosque too. Three contractors have left so far and the fourth one has been arranged. Restoring a Mughal-era building as per the original design is not a child’s play. It requires very careful planning and construction by experts so three contractors excused themselves,” he said, adding that the previous contractors used modern bricks in the restoration of 10 minarets which changed the entire design.
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“Parts of the mosque were constructed and then demolished and the process was repeated again and again as the Archeology Department wanted restoration work to be done as per the original design but the contractors used modern materials and changed the design,” he said.
The supervisor of the restoration project Adnan said that inexperienced contractors were hired for the purpose who then hired inexperienced construction workers and this delayed the whole project.
The restoration work was started in 2018 and the current contractor Khalid claimed that it would took at least two years to complete. He said that the Archeology Department has been informed about it.
“We are trying to do the restoration carefully as per the original Mughal architecture design,” he said.
Local residents claimed that out of 10 minarets only two have been constructed in three years in an altered manner, blaming that the water pool in the middle of the mosque had been demolished instead of restoration.
Khalid claimed that two domes and five minarets have been restored so far.
It is worth noting here that the restoration of the mosque was finalised by the Auqaf Department in 2015 and in 2018 government allocated Rs80.70 million fund for the purpose and handed over the project to Archeology Department.
The Directorate of Archeology was bound to hire expert constructors from Lahore and Multan for it.
On the other hand, Aquaf Department has planned the reconstruction of a market adjacent to the mosque but Archeology Department has opposed the plan on the ground that it would damage the historic mosque.
They recommended abandoning the construction of market.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 13th, 2021.