ACCORDING to the news in a section of the press, the edifice of the Sindh Provincial Cooperative Bank, famously known as K.B.
Azim Khan, building, named after the first deputy registrar and mentor of copoperative movement in Sindh, was scheduled to be put to auction.
The provincial cooperative society authorities, who had notified the auction, are either oblivious or have intentionally closed their eyes to the fact that this magnificent building, constructed by the Bombay Cooportative Union in the mid - 1930s is still in the name of Union, but now it is a national heritage declared by the Sindh Cultural Heritage Preservation Act 1994.
According to the notification, No. OSD/CHC/1 - 66/2008, issued by the Advisory Committee of the Cultural Heritage, about 88 old buildings of the Hyderabad city, which include K.B. Azim Khan Building, are under the care/protection of the Department of Antiquities established in 2009, having its three separate wings of Heritage, Conservation and Archeology.
According to the rules of the Culture and Heritage Act, nobody can alter, change, repair and least of all demolish any building declared as national heritage, except with the explicit prior permission of the Advisory Committee of Cultural Heritage, government of Sindh. And violation of heritage rules can lead to fine up to Rs100,000 and one year’s imprisonment to the violator.
Apart from the legal side of the arguments, the K.B. Azim Khan Building is not a simple brick and concrete structure but one of the few pieces of exquisite and beauty located on the most prized location of the city, which is still spared by the builders’ mafia.
It is also a history: the name of social movement which reminds the coming generations of the valuable role played by the elders for the betterment and welfare of the masses.
It is worth mentioning that most of the buildings of historical significance such as Besant Hall, Metharam Hostel, Dayaldas Club, K.B. Azim Khan Building, City Courts, Novidayala High School (new/city campus Sindh University), Sadhu Nawal Rai Academy (Government High School) and Collector’s Bungalow are located in the same vicinity.
So far the builders’ mafia, for one or the other reason, could not penetrate this high - prized area. Efforts made during the previous regime to convert the Collector’s Bungalow and the famous Ladies Club located at Hirabad were foiled by civil society and the city administration with the help of the media.
Unfortunately this time it is imprudent cooperative society officials who have joined hands with the mafia to demolish a prime property of historical significance, which is declared under the Sindh Heritage Act as a national heritage.
It is the bounden duty of civil society, as well as of Hyderabad city administration, to once again consolidate their efforts so that edifice of K.B Azim Khan, a declared national heritage and splendour of the city worth preserving, can be safeguarded from the clutches of builders’ mafia.
I also entreat the Sindh chief minister, as well as the minister of culture and the minister for the Department of Antiquities, to take necessary steps at once to save the monuments of historical significance from annihilation.
Manzoor H. Kureshi Karachi