RAWALPINDI: In an act that is enough to show the disrespect for the rule of law by those in power, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif will inaugurate the Peshawar Road expansion project without getting the mandatory environment impact assessment (EIA) report on Friday.
Under the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act 1997’s section 12, the authorities concerned have to obtain the EIA report from the Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-Epa) before starting any big project.
The rule also states that it will be necessary to publish public notices in the press about the initial environmental examination reports of the project.
However, sources said, the provincial government was launching the mega project by laying the foundation of the Pirwadhai Mor flyover and underpass on Peshawar Road without taking approval from the environment watchdog.
They said the expansion of the road to four lanes on each side would eat over three-kilometre-long greenbelt from Chur Chowk to Chairing Cross.
“The provincial authorities did not contact Punjab-Epa for the assessment report of the Peshawar Road expansion,” said Shuakat Hayat, the district officer environment, while talking to Dawn.
He said the authorities concerned had applied for the EIA report about the Pirwadhai flyover and underpass project. “However, they started the work without getting the non-objection certificate,” he added.
When asked what action would be taken if the construction work got underway without the EIA report, the official said he had informed the director general of the environment agency about the matter. “We will issue notices to the authorities concerned and summon them to the environmental tribunal.”
To another question, he, however, admitted that so far they had taken no action against any department. He said private housing schemes or other constructions could be stopped but it would be difficult to take such an action against a project launched by the government.
When contacted, Jamshaid Khan, the director for the Peshawar Road expansion project, said they had applied for the EIA report and the work was under process.
“It is a formality to get the EIA report otherwise flyovers and underpasses are environment-friendly projects as it reduced the air and noise pollution besides providing signal-free roads to the commuters,” he said.
The Rs1.4 billion Pirwadhai Mor underpass and flyover project will be completed in four months in two phases.
Staff Reporter in Islamabad adds: The capital administration has constituted a committee headed by the deputy commissioners of the twin cities to visit the site of the flyover and underpass at Peshawar Road and finalise a traffic diversion plan within two days.
The committee was constituted during a meeting attended by officials concerned from Islamabad and Rawalpindi here on Thursday. Suggestions in this regard will also be taken from the Islamabad traffic police.
The meeting, with Chief Commissioner Islamabad Tariq Mahmood Pirzada in the chair, discussed the alternative traffic route plan for the twin cities.
Commissioner Rawalpindi Imdadullah Bosal told the meeting that the traffic police of the garrison city had chalked out a diversion plan which is to be finalised in consultation with the Islamabad administration.
The Rawalpindi traffic police have proposed that movement of vehicles from Peshawar Road to Saddar would be through Chungi No 26 to Kashmir Highway to Police Lines Road, I.J. Principal Road, Railway Road and G.T. Road. Traffic from Peshawar Road to I.J. Principal Road would be diverted through Chungi No 26, Kashmir Highway, Police Lines Road, Ninth Avenue and I.J. Principal Road.
Likewise, traffic coming from I.J. Principal Road to Peshawar Road would move through Police Lines Road, Ninth Avenue, Kashmir Highway and G.T. Road. From Saddar to Peshawar Road, the traffic would go through G.T. Road, Railway Road, I.J. Principal Road, Police Lines Road and Kashmir Highway.
Similarly, two-way light traffic will be allowed on G.T. Road (Peshawar-bound) along the project area. Traffic will also ply on the service roads along Peshawar Road and I.J. Principal Road.