Earlier today, a video surfaced on social media showing two workers hammering away at the 130-year-old Katrak mansion in Karachi. Sindh MPA Rabia Azfar Nizami shared the video on her Twitter account.
Additionally, she noted that the authorities intended to break down the building without public attention. Therefore, workers were breaking down the heritage site on 25th December, a public holiday for Pakistan.
“Katrak mansion, civil lines, heritage site being broken down on Dec 25, 2021 at 10:45 am. Task being done on a public holiday to keep it off the radar of public,” Sindh MPA Rabia tweeted while sharing the video.
no its not – as much as i love to destroy the heritage since its a waste of land this is being build on an REIT and the facade of the building will be kept intact . Karachi needs housing .
— اویس (@Sabbandkardo) December 25, 2021
However, a Twitter user noted that the building is not being broken down as the owner of the building will keep the facade intact.
On the other hand, the Twitterati also stated that such heritage sites are a waste of land since Karachi desperately needs housing.
Karachi, popularly known as Pakistan’s economic hub, faces a shortage of houses. Owing to the huge population living, the city needs at least 80,000 new housing units every year.
Katrak Mansion to remain intact
In 2020, TPL Properties bought the stunning historical Katrak Mansion. Karachites raised concerns as they feared the builders will break down the property.
However, the builders clarified that they will not break down the historical structure. Instead, they will build a structure over it and strengthen the building. The builders also intended to create a museum on the property as well.
Another major heritage building in Karachi about to be lost to builders mafia – the Homi Katrak Mansion on the corner of Abdullah Haroon Road and Hoshang Road is a protected building under the Sindh Cultural Heritage Preservation Act of 1994 – application moved by TLP Properties pic.twitter.com/YyLKv5WJzK
— omar r quraishi (@omar_quraishi) February 14, 2020
Due to its dilapidated condition, the building ranked quite low on the list of declared heritage properties. Interestingly, a British architect working on the project also suggested ways to repurpose it.
Important to note, the Katrak Mansion is located on the crossing of Abdullah Haroon Road (Victoria Road) and Hochand Road. The area is popular as Karachi’s designated cultural zone. It has colonial structures such as Frere Hall, and colonial privately owned bungalows along with the modern heritage of Richard Neutra’s American Embassy building.
According to historical accounts, the Katrak Mansion belonged to a Zoroastrian businessman by the name of Kavasji Katrak. He came to India in the early 1900s.