Massive uplift schemes in Lahore worry civil society

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LAHORE: Various new uplift projects in Lahore have perturbed civil society activists who have expressed serious reservations over them.

Lahore Conservation Society’s President and Convener of Lahore Bachao Tehrik (Save Lahore Movement) Imrana Tiwana during a telephonic interview with News Lens Pakistan said, “Uplift schemes, like Elevated Expressway from Mozang Qartaba Chowk to Liberty, Metro Bus Project and Ring Road Project, were in fact bringing an end to Lahore.”

She further said, “The public money spent on these projects is proving disastrous for ordinary citizens of Lahore while these schemes benefit only seven percent elite of the city who use cars. People are dying in hospitals of Lahore due to poor facilities. The amount spent on these schemes should be rather spent on education and health sectors.”

She claimed that the Punjab government had not attained Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report from the Environment Protection Department for these projects. “The government is replacing precious agriculture and semi-agriculture land with concrete and stones in the city, thus, increasing temperature by 4-7 percent, destroying ground-water recharge surface and eco-system hence leaving no water for the city in future.”

Tiwana went on saying that physical and psychological health of citizens would get highly disturbed in the long run. She further said, “Our social culture of moving on footpaths in the shade of trees and our heritage are being destroyed by these so-called signal-free corridors and even our birds have migrated to our neighboring country India due to suffocation and cutting of trees in Lahore.”

She informed News Lens Pakistan that PKR 15 billion were being spent on Elevated Expressway project, PKR 72 billion were spent on Metro Bus Project and PKR 50 billion were spent on Ring Road Project.

Secretary General of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan I. A. Rehman termed uplift schemes in Lahore state-sponsored vandalism in the garb of development since essential features of the city are being destroyed. While speaking to News Lens Pakistan, he said, “The irrational development projects have caused environment degradation which is a violation of fundamental human right of citizens.”

Rehman further said Punjab does not mean only Lahore and if government has enough funds, uplift schemes should be started in other parts of the province as well.  Rehman added that billions of rupees were being spent on these schemes at the cost of basic facilities. These funds should be spent on human welfare and urged the government to stop reckless activities.

Lahore Development Authority’s Director General Ahad Cheema, during a telephonic interview, defended uplift schemes in Lahore.  He said, “These schemes are meant purely for general public welfare. These are also part of mandate of public representatives and we have to execute them.”

Punjab Government spokesman Zaeem Qadri said no one should unnecessarily raise objections over development of Lahore. “Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has a vision of developing the city on modern lines and make it an ideal international city of the world.”

“The opponents of development should neither waste their energy nor ours,” he told News Lens Pakistan. He further stated, “As far as environment is concerned, we are planting 1,00,000 trees when we have to cut 1,000 trees.”

Architect Nayyar Ali Dada said the city can be developed by adoption of green management techniques and better town planning coupled with active participation of citizens. “The City should not expand indefinitely. New satellite cities should be developed and all basic facilities should be provided,” he said while speaking to News Lens Pakistan.

 

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