PLANS for a new metro line in Lahore, Pakistan, would result in the demolition of the Anglican Cathedral, and damage to St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and important heritage sites, including the Shalimar Gardens, the UN and charities have warned.
The Orange Line Metro Train project is due to be completed by October 2017, at an estimated cost of £1.23 billion. It is already displacing hundreds of poor communities that lie in its path.
The Pastor of St Andrew’s, the Revd Hanook Haque, said on Wednesday that he and others were still waiting for written confirmation from the government of the impact of the new train line on their building.
He said: “Of course it is going to create a lot of trouble during our church services and daily routine work, and we will be facing a loss of our church property, even demolition of our church boundary wall and entrance of church is expected. Please pray with us that the route of this Orange Metro train may change.”
St Andrew’s, which dates back to 1899, has a community of about 250.
The Anglican Cathedral Church of the Resurrection lies directly in the path of the new line.
The United Nations has urged the government to halt the proposed route length of 27 km. The project passes through the historic centre of Lahore, threatening historic buildings, minority places of worship, tombs and shrines, the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, said in a statement.
“The project will not only destroy physical sites but the ways of life that have developed there, that people cherish and through which they express their dignity and identity,” she said.
The Christian anti-persecution charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide said that it was deeply concerned about the impact of the train line on poor communities, and on important religious sites.
Its chief executive, Mervyn Thomas, said: “This is a blow at a time when religious minorities are in a particularly weak position in Pakistan.
“It is clear that in the planning and construction of this train line, the Punjab government is in contravention of various legislation regarding cultural heritage, as well as international covenants protecting cultural rights and the right to freedom of religion or belief.”