Making sense of the Food Street
By Ali Sultan
It’s all in a circle. Start travelling slowly, the glitter of lights in the eye, the smells, the dome of a mosque, the drone of human voices. You travel from one point and end up at the same place.
magic and fairies came alive
The Kharak incident has brought into sharp focus the issue of illegal industrial units in residential areas
By Taimoor Hassan Alvi
Not less than 28 people,
including 20 women and children, were killed when a factory building
located in Kharak a densely populated residential locality collapsed due
to a boiler explosion. Some houses adjacent to the factory also collapsed.
This was not the first
incident in the provincial capital Lahore. Previously in Shahdara on June,
3, 2011, there was a blast at a chemical factory which left four labourers
dead and eight wounded. In Mochi Gate area cosmetics shops caught fire
which left four dead and 128 people wounded and nine plazas were
demolished. In Kahna, on June 23, 2008, a fireworks factory caught fire
which resulted in deaths of four children and injured 10 people. Apart
from this many countless incidents occur which are not reported.
There are many causes
for these disastrous tragedies like disarranged electric wires, disordered
machinery, decrepit buildings, unskilled people, violation of building
construction rules but the most important is sheer negligence of
responsible government departments.
In Lahore, particularly
interior, more than one thousand such home-based industries are working
where indigent workers are compelled to work to earn their livelihood
while directly or indirectly neglecting all basic safety measures. Mostly
factories are located in impoverished areas like katchi abadis and workers
belong to poor families that are easy to exploit.
These industries include
kilns, re-rolling mills, fire-works factories, shoes manufacturing
factories, steel foundries, scrap-yards, plastic recycling units, mineral
water plants etc.
Areas like Mochi Gate,
Shahalmi, Bhaati Gate, Ichhra and Gulshan-e-Ravi to name some, have been
turned into mini industrial zones. Apart from these many small industrial
units are working in almost all poor residential areas.
“There is no declared
legal industrial area in Lahore except Sundar industrial area,” says
Deputy District Officer of Environment Zahid Yonus.
Lahore’s master plan of 1973, the Kharak medicine factory was in the
industrial area but gradually this area was inhabited by people coming
from all over and they built residences around it. Therefore, in master
plan 2005 it was declared a residential area.”
Zahid says, on the
pattern of this medicine factory, there are many more units in residential
areas but they have no other industrial area to shift them. “On one side
of Lahore there is Defense Housing Authority (DHA) where people are aware
and educated so no industrial units can be established there illegally,”
“One of the reasons
for establishing industry in houses in residential areas is to avoid tax
and secondly it is not costly as you just need to install machinery in an
already constructed building.”
Zahid terms Kharak blast
as ‘Occupational Health and Safety Disaster’. He says as per his
investigation it was because of gas leakage.
Khawaja Salman, a member
of Punjab Assembly from PP-142, says 40 per cent of the city has been
declared commercial, so people have started building plazas illegally in
residential areas and one plaza has hundreds of owners because of lack of
“In Shah Alam Market
almost 1000 to 1500 shops are present. We can’t shift them now. The only
solutions we can think of, is to prohibit further construction of shops.
We are making a Walled City Authority which will not let anyone carry out
any illegal work there. Draft is ready. Cabinet has passed it. Now in
upcoming session it will be passed,” he says further.
While responding to a
question he rejected the idea that these industries are working under
politicians’ support. He says that we take votes from them but we cannot
permit them to play with human lives which are most important to us.
But he does not give a
reason why the ban on factory inspections imposed by Pervez Elahi
government has not been lifted by the Shahbaz Sharif government. A general
perception is that Punjab government patronises traders and industrialists
who often make employees work in hazardous conditions. Putting them under
the scanner of Labour Department would expose this.
However, while talking
about the disordered electric wires he says as far as the Wapda wiring is
concerned, that falls under federal control. The PML-N is in opposition
there and cannot do anything regarding wiring issues.
An official of Punjab
Labour Department tells TNS on condition of anonymity that whenever we
take action against someone, politicians or officers of various
departments intervene and use their powers to guard them.
He says he cannot take
the risk of coming on record as the issue has been taken up by Supreme
Court and he can be punished by Punjab government or bureaucracy for
speaking the truth.
“Pervaiz Elahi during
his term put a ban on boiler inspection – the reason given was
allegation of corruption against some labour inspectors and boiler blast
was the major reason for Kharak tragedy. That outdated boiler was not
inspected which suddenly exploded. This government has not learnt the
lesson yet and inspection is still banned.”
Further, he says, people
find it beneficial to establish home industry, for they remain hidden from
government department. At times they are also involved in electricity
theft. For these benefits they prefer congested areas where they install
very heavy machinery which is not only hazardous for themselves but also
for surrounding buildings.
Mostly these units are
involved in manufacturing illegal duplicate products of original one. If
they register themselves and move towards declared open industrial area,
they will have to pay taxes and commercial bills.
He says the main hurdle
is lack of co-ordination between responsible departments like environment
department, LDA and Labour Department. Labour Department is not the only
one responsible for inspection.
Pakistan Peoples Party
MPA Sajida Mir says commercial activities are going on in all the domestic
areas. Anyone can construct an industrial unit without taking permission
or approval from the area people and the concerned authorities. “People
dig out huge ditches for basements which weaken the surrounding buildings.
Chemical shops and cylinder re-filling points are almost everywhere in the
city. Government institutions responsible to keep check and balance must
come into action,” she stresses.
Living for long in
congested areas flooded with industrial units, residents are now leaving
for newer localities. Neither ambulance nor rescue workers can approach
home-based industries must be shifted out of city, far away from
residential areas to avoid any tragedy in future. She ignored the question
regarding electric wires; saying people should themselves take care of
this. Police know everything and they should take strict action against
negligence of provincial government she says former government took all
the truck addas out of the city but after elections this government again
brought them back.
According to media
reports, complaints were lodged against Kharak factory in 2005 that it was
working illegally in residential area. A case was also filed in Lahore
High Court but was dismissed in 2007.
“There is no space for
industrial units in residential areas,” says Advocate Imtiaz Chaudhry.
According to Pakistan Penal Code, five years imprisonment with Rs. 50,000
fine is prescribed for a person running illegal industrial units in
residential areas,” says Imtaiz. The law is there but like most laws of
the land it is hardly implemented.
Farooq Tariq, Pakistan
Labour Party spokesman tells TNS, Kharak incident is a glaring example of
government’s failure whose employees are expected to work for the
welfare and safety of the general public.
He says the factory
caught fire in the past too but no action was taken and cases and
complaints were also lodged but the factory kept running as usual. He
demanded an inquiry into the whole issue and action against all the
industries set up in residential areas.
It’s all in a circle.
Start travelling slowly, the glitter of lights in the eye, the smells, the
dome of a mosque, the drone of human voices. You travel from one point and
end up at the same place.
Walking in circles
always reminds one of pilgrimage, but here there is no search for
spiritual ecstasy, for being one or many. It’s the grumbling of the
stomach, a very human concern, some of us would say.
Some hidden Sufis, or
individuals shunned by today or by time, would say almost the opposite,
that a meal — the grumbling of the stomach, the twitching of the eyes,
the wait, the licking of lips, the idea of being completely empty and then
being filled — is ecstasy.
Fort Road a little time
ago was famous for three things: Mughal grandeur, being the front for
Lahore’s street of skin and pleasure and top views. Two restaurants came
with the greatest view in the world, looking down and away, the buzzing of
a whole population, the whole city in their palms.
But now Fort Road has
gotten a facelift. After shutting down the Gawalmandi Food Street, Punjab
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s dream to replace “Pervez Musharraf’s
Food Street” with his own has finally taken shape. Sleepy, strange Fort
Road has become “Fort Road Food Street.”
Therefore, Fort Road now
appears in circles. A cobblestone street meets one’s foot. Lights and
smoke of various hues and intensity spread through the land in slow waves,
food either displayed upfront or being cut or gutted. The street is a
circus, cameras clicking away at people smiling or posing in ways they
haven’t posed before. Waiters, — dressed in white, blue or any colour
their owners desire — their hands holding menus or trays, eyeing the
next customer, waiting for the new hustle.
An exhibition: of old
buildings, horridly lit up, or photographs of old Lahore. A musique
concrete: children crying, people talking and arguing, spoons and culinary
swaying away in kitchens or tables.
But food streets — as
much as convenience of having one place for a variety of local food —
always feel like an illusion, a scene from a film, a passage in a novel,
finally a crass tourist attraction. The idea of food — especially in
Lahore — borders somewhere between taste, memory and being secretive,
holy. Food, or the grail of good food, is never in one single place in any
city. Lahore works the same way. You travel to get good food, into the
nooks and corners of cities, into dingy small rooms, into streets you’ve
never been before, into places you wouldn’t ever be in except for the
best food, for the best dish you couldn’t find anywhere else.
Beloveds create longing,
passion, excitement. Food and Lahore always have been lovers; therefore
you need to be part of the secret to get it. Therefore one Food Street or
eighteen (there are plans for more) doesn’t really matter. It really
doesn’t make much sense, at least if you are one of those who romance
*Celebrating Spring 2012
till March 11 at Alhamra, Gaddafi Stadium. Child Art Competition. The
theme is Celebrating Spring. ”
*An exhibition sharing
the adventures of students from Pakistan and India through an exchange of
letters, post cards, collages and oral histories at the Nairang
till Feb 23.
*Film Show: Iranian
Award Wining Film ‘Hayat’ will be screened with English subtitles at
Auditorium of daily Nai Baat, 4-N-A Industrial Area Gulberg II, Lahore
today. Entry is free but registration is must. Film time: 6:00pm to
* Lok Rahs is organising
Punjab Folk Dance Festival on Tuesday, Feb 21 at Bagh-e-Jinnah Open Air
Theatre at 6:00pm.
University’s first ever multi-category annual competition; the BNU
Festival 2012 from Feb 24-26.
*Letters To Taseer II at
The Drawing Room Art Gallery till Feb 23.
Nawa Kot is the locality
where the tomb alleged to be of Zeb-un-Nisa is found. Nawa in Punjabi
means new and Kot means fort. The Multan Road here is surrounded by tall
buildings, rising up to 5-6 floors on occasions, so close to each other
that one can probably hear what channel the neighbour is viewing. Both
these features are typical of Indian architecture before the British.
These buildings appear to be modern but in actuality they are all
historical buildings, only wearing a modern garb. If one visits the
buildings from the inside, one would find out that the plan they are
following is traditional.
After the advent of the
British, people shied away from traditional living standards and adopted
the British bungalow architectural features which are spacious houses,
with plenty of room for lawn. This trend has persisted to the present day,
therefore one finds that whenever a family gains some financial clout, the
first thing they do is sell or rent out their house in congested places
and move out to spacious localities like Gulberg and Cantonment. Nawa Kot
is no exception to this phenomenon.
On a lot of buildings
here one can notice banners and posters of all sorts of colleges that have
even started in single rooms some times, vying to serve the community. On
the ground floors one notices small businesses like a small grocery store,
small paint houses or cycle repair shops. As people keep on moving out of
such places, instead of remaining depositories of culture and heritage,
they commence looking like repositories for poverty. The walled city of
Lahore would be an interesting case study in this regard.
This town of Nawa Kot
which extends on both sides of the Multan Road, much deeper into the
region has an important role to play in the history of Lahore. During the
time of the Sikh Misls the 18th century Lahore had lost its glory as an
aesthetic city of the Mughals after their fall and was quickly becoming a
cultural nightmare. There was security. It was in this state of
destruction that a light of hope emerged from the Western side of the
country. A young Sikh King was quickly gaining power by the day and the
people of Lahore once again dreamt about a lost status. There was a man
called Mehr Muqam-ud-din, who came from a village in Kasur. He was a guard
of the Lohari Gate of the walled city of Lahore. He along with some other
people of the city wrote to the rising sun to come and take over the
country. They promised to open the Lahori Gate so that the army of the
King would only have to march into the city. When in 1799, Ranjit Singh
reached Lahore, he opened the gate, and thus Maharaja Ranjit Singh was
able to take over the city without any bloodshed.
Private property at that
time was a concept alien to the people of India. All property belonged to
the Sovereign and he could bestow it to anyone, and then take it back upon
his/her death. Satisfied with the services of his ally, Ranjit Singh
bestowed the Garden of Zeb-un-Nisa at Nawa Kot to Mehr Muqam-ud-din.
Mehr Muqam-ud-din razed
the buildings of the garden and commenced populating people at the Bagh.
He invited people from Kasur, Jalander, Multan and Ferozpur, who still
live here. Most of these people were Arains, a caste to which Mehr
Muqam-ud-din, also belonged. He called this residential area Nawa Kot.
This was because in place of the old protective wall he summoned a new one
around the community. For this reason, the locality was called Nawa Kot.
There is still however, one remnant of the garden, which has survived this
quest for survival. It is a gateway and it is situated behind the tomb.
Known as the Choti
Chuburji, this gateway to the garden of Zeb-un-Nisa is situated right
behind the tomb of Zeb-un-Nisa, the Mughal princess (daughter of Aurangzeb),
also situated in this locality. Still well preserved this structure is
akin to the Chuburji of the Chuburji Chowk, also serving as the gateway
into a garden.
Students of Lahore
Grammar School Johar Town Branch ( LGS-JT) performed the play ‘The Life
of Galileo’ by Bertolt Brecht. The performance that started on the Feb
10 lasted three days — and ended just three days before Galileo’s
448th birthday. It was presented by Real Entertainment Productions and
directed by Karen David and Omair Rana.
The plot revolves around
a poor Galileo who replicates the technology of a telescope and sells it
as his own invention in the Venetian Republic. He uses this to validate
Copernicus’s theory about the solar system that it contains planets,
including Earth that revolves around a stationary Sun. However, this
belief was unpopular among the public and clergy of the time. And
eventually, when the Vatican threatens him of torture, Galileo takes his
judgment back. But in the end, he gives his pupil Andrea a compilation of
all his scientific discoveries and requests him to smuggle it out of
Italy. This is an abridged version, since the actual play included
Galileo’s daughter’s marriage and its failure because of Galileo’s
unwillingness to expel his unconventional, rather eccentric outlook. This
portion was left out, possibly because the school is all-boys.
It was refreshing to see
the young men, their hair coloured white, interpreting not only Brecht but
the life and times of someone as brilliant, unorthodox and significant as
Galileo. Therefore, the idea of performing ‘The Life of Galileo’ for
students was admirable in itself.
It was a pleasure seeing
how these young lads presented this complicated script and theme with such
maturity and ease. It was apparent from their presentation that they
understood the social, emotional and historical conflict Galileo and his
counterparts went through. Though the play was done by a school and is
ideal for a younger audience, it is sad to note here that the attendance
was fairly low all three days. On the last day of the show, merely sixty
to seventy people were present, most of them parents of the participants
and not students.
Almost all the
performers outdid themselves as the play required them to perform beyond
their years. However, the fat prelate played by Taimur and Andrea played
by Abuzar were able to grab the viewers’ attention. Out of the minor
characters, Sachal Tehseen as Sagredo and Hussain as the Pope were
noticeable. The scene in which Sagredo complains to the Pope about Galileo
was a particularly funny and powerful one. Yet the actor who added glow to
the entire play was Aamir Tariq who played Galileo. His body language,
gestures and even his gaze was imitative of a grand academic lost in
thoughts and dreams. A genuine objection here is that he had a lengthy
stage presence to leave his mark but it goes to his credit that he
didn’t over-do it.
The play was a
low-budget one, and it was remarkable and disappointing at the same time.
The absence of a proper sound system was felt continuously because several
dialogues appeared muffled. Since the seating arrangement was on a flat
surface, the back-benchers had problem viewing. But this can be
over-looked because the cost of improving these would have been
substantial and impossible to meet without tickets. However, a major
oddity was the dress of the characters. Most of them appeared in grey
pants and white dress shirts, very unlike medieval Italy. This apparel
calamity gave this fantastic performance the feel of a college skit.
Otherwise, it was all smooth.
The best aspect of the
play was that it was perceived and performed by youngsters for youngsters.
Students must be encouraged to watch these plays so that a taste for drama
and culture of theatre-going can be inculcated in them.
Recently staged by the
Beaconhouse School system, Upper Mall Girls campus at the Ali auditorium
Lahore, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of the most loved comedies of
The play begins with a
small girl narrating the opening scene to the audience. The curtain raises
with a vibrant and colourful stage setting. The magical power of the music
was best seen in the play. It rekindled the times when the fairies were
part of this world. Lights illuminated the stage when it was really
required. In short it all appeared to be just in perfect harmony.
was the first ever venture of the faculty members. Sehar Maqsood, who was
the director of the play said that they had really worked hard to create
the aura related to the fairies and nymphs. No wonder the dresses of the
fairies, the dances, the makeup the music was breathtaking and was highly
applauded by the viewers.
The cast had girls who
had been on the stage for the first time yet never did they lose
confidence in the face of the huge audience. The most impressive among
them was by Yusra Irfan who played the character of Puck.
Salman Shahid was the
chief guest of the play. He appreciated the cast and the efforts put in by
the faculty members.
It is hoped and expected
that the school would keep up the spirit and continue to stage quality
— TNS Report