Lahore ko Bachao…

There is an important decision scheduled to be taken tomorrow, which may have a very detrimental effect on Lahore and its future – and I decided to do a post on it for the fear that it may end up being ignored in all the mist of World Cup frenzy and the CJ’s trial. The decision is regarding the proposed felling of hundreds of trees along the Canal road to make way for a wider road. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has scheduled a hearing on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project, submitted by NESPAK, on 14th March at Sunfort Hotel, Liberty Market at 1030 hrs.

As someone who has to regularly commute on the Canal road, I am fully aware of the traffic hell that it tends to become almost every day. But I strongly differ with TEPA on the proposed solution for the problem. Widening the road is surely a short-term solution keeping in mind the number of new cars that are coming out on the roads every month – few years down the road, this widened road is sure to get congested as well! What they need to do is to streamline the traffic through better management while making alternate routes. I’ve seen umpteen number of incidents where the traffic has been blocked by someone shopping for fruits from road-side vendors – why are they not fined is something that baffles me. As for alternate routes, I’m perplexed as to what is keeping them from constructing the proposed Jinnah Hospital-Karim Block link road through Punjab University? The short-sightedness of our authorities may end up depriving us and our future generations from a pleasant and a beautiful Lahore icon – a green Lahore canal!

Below is an excerpt from an article by Ahmad Rafay Alam of Lahore Bachao Movement that appeared in today’s edition of The News. I highly recommend that you go through the complete article.

If Lahore administrators feel that the traffic in Lahore can be managed by sacrificing its heritage, then we all face a future where nothing is sacred. Why not dismantle and sell off the Badshahi Mosque? I’m sure the ancient malba will fetch enough cash to hold the ground-breaking ceremony of a five-Star Hotel and wholesale supermarket.

This Wednesday the EPA must act as the protector of the environment and should take a decision in the larger interests of the city of Lahore. It must not allow political will or influence cloud its decision. The people of Lahore must come to the hearing, listen to the TEPA present its argument and challenge it. All of us want the traffic in Lahore to be better, but no one will let the government go about destroying our heritage unless and until we know that the government has tried and exhausted all other alternatives.

7 Comments so far

  1. ASMA (unregistered) on March 13th, 2007 @ 7:45 am




  2. Wasil (unregistered) on March 13th, 2007 @ 9:21 am

    I totally agree that Jinnah Hospital-Karim Block road will greatly reduce the traffic problem. Along with removing fruit sellers on donkey carts and stuff, they should also widen the road and make a separate lane or something in front of Punjab College of Commerce, at times it single handedly make long queues.
    Cutting trees should be the last option on the authorities’ minds (if they have one), but it should also be accompanied by planting new trees along the new proposed road. Think about it, there are certain types of trees that can grow tall in a couple of years.

  3. Hasan Mubarak (unregistered) on March 13th, 2007 @ 9:23 pm

    I heard of a tree-transplant activity in which they were safely digging up trees lining the canal and replanting successfully in nearby Kot Lakhpat (Quaid-e-Azam) Industrial Estate… If that’s what they are doing, will it serve the cause?

  4. Waqas (unregistered) on March 15th, 2007 @ 12:39 pm

    ^Yes they are doing that, at first I did’nt heed it when I read it in the news papers but then I observed the whole tree transplantation in person in front of Jinnah Hospital.

    Albeit the tecnique is quite effective, I really don’t think that PHA would be able to carry out such operations on such a massive scale (lifting thousands of trees one by one ain’t going to be easy).

    One thing is for certain, the situation is not going to ameliorate, the south of Lahore is home to innumerable housing societies most of which are’nt even occupied yet.

    Mass transit systems are’nt going to be feasible as people in Pakistan like to have their own cars if they can afford them, so no one would use them and also Mass transit systems are extremly expensive to develop (Something like Rs.1bn per Km).

    There is a mass transit line planned for canal road in the $8bn (Yes that is a dollar figure) transit master plan but development on it is not expected to start before Line 1 (Shahdra – Airport) is completed.

    The largest mistake that TEPA has made is removing interchanges of the Under construction Ring Road on Thokar Niaz beg and shortening the ring road.

    Widening of the canal road is inevitable, we would have to do it one day or another, we have to make sure that if we cut down 10,000 trees we plant 100,000 more (mostly on the green belts that would be left after widening of the road).

    Take a look of all the plans that are underway for the area and what changes should be made IMO.

  5. suh (unregistered) on March 16th, 2007 @ 1:41 am

    it is extremly ignorant to say mass transit system will not be feasible because people like to drive cars.

    Lahore doesnt really have a mass transit system so other then driving theres nothing else you can do. people are allready fed up of the traffic and increasing petrol/gas prices, once a mas transit system is made they will surly use it, cars will be restricted for the upper class and upper middle class.

    if you go to countrys with a strong mass trasit system like london, you will see that people hate them but are forced to travel on them.

    the advangtages a mass transit does is:
    – reduce your journey time
    – no parking required
    – cheap
    – no trafic

    right now i dnt think canal roads needs widening, the traffic on it is because of people coming from thokar to kalma chowk and vice versa, but once the ring road is constructed it will provide an alternatuve route and i suppose it will reduce the traffic on canal road it self.

  6. Waqas (unregistered) on March 16th, 2007 @ 6:40 pm

    ^That ring Road plan has been scraped, the ring road is now shorter, 17 Km shorter and it completely avoids Thokar Niaz Beg.

    Remember $8bn is alot of money for a country like Pakistan and even when the lines are completed alot of money would be required to keep them running and that translates into high fares which poor people would not be able to pay, and when it comes to people using the transit system (those who would be able to afford it) I reckon they would still go for cars, atleast people with families.

    So transit lines would make the whole situation better but the cost to benefit ratio would be pathetic.

    I still think that Canal Road needs atleast one extra lane on each side.

    Ferozpur Road is getting a transit line just because there is no room left to further widen it (Already 10 laned highway).

  7. Shahbaz (unregistered) on March 27th, 2007 @ 2:51 pm

    May ALlah ALmight give our authrities an eye to look beyond thier commissionsin projects, after all their children have to survive in thi scoutry after them. what we are leaving them behind. A dirty,polluted city.

    We should defintely go for mass transit system as it have many benefits in it as already mentione dby waqas. Ring road is also a useless project after so many chanegs in it.
    Many of our relatives lives in Rawalpindi they hate to come Lahore as its enterance from Shahdara specially makee one more tired.

    Wish Our LAHOER will become again so greener and with clean air.

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