LAHORE - Dispelling the impression that historic railway stations are in danger due to negligence of the authorities concerned, Pakistan Railways told the Lahore High Court that 609 ancient stations from 1862 to 1929 still exist in their original condition.

The counsel for the railways presented to the court a report on the condition of historic railway stations in Punjab, in response to a petition challenging demolition of 136-year-old Gujranwala Railways Station. Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah was hearing the petition.  The counsel said that 400 stations were fully functional while 200 were partially functional. On this, the chief justice asked him to explain that why 200 stations were not functional in the province. On this, the counsel said that staff had been deputed there for protection, so that historic railway stations are kept intact in their original shape.

The chief justice directed the counsel to submit a report about recommendations of an advisory committee of the railways on preservation of old buildings. The court had already stayed demolition of Gujranwala Railway Station. The case was later adjourned.  Imrana Tiwana, a social worker, had moved the petition, submitting that Gujranwala Railway Station was a historic building but in danger after proposed demolition. She said the station in question was built in 1881 and it was a heritage asset. However, she said that authorities had decided to demolish it to construct a commercial building.  Her counsel told the court that Gujranwala city council activists, lawyers and traders had been protesting against demolition of the building. She argued that Pakistani authorities don’t bother to preserve national heritage but on other side world nations love their heritage and use all resources to preserve it. Historical buildings are in danger, she said.  The petitioner asked the court to restrain the authorities from demolishing the Gujranwala Railway Station building and direct the authorities to rather preserve and make it functional.

After hearing both sides, the court adjourned the hearing until Jan 11.