LAHORE: A foreign consultancy firm has declared retaining water in the Ravi during winters as one of the biggest challenges to the launch and accomplishment of the Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project, Dawn has learnt.
The firm (Meinhardt), hired by the government a couple of months back to conduct a study, detailed feasibility and to make design of the project worth billions, recently submitted a pre-feasibility report to the Lahore Development Authority (LDA). The report is currently being reviewed by the Strategic Policy Unit, a think tank of the LDA, and other quarters concerned.
“The Ravi River is not a recurrent water body because its source is being controlled by India under the water treaty of 1960. In summers, water releases in the river from Marala-Ravi Link Canal through Marala headworks, but in winters this canal is closed. So it is one of the greatest challenges to get water in the river in winters,” the report reads.
While discussing other major challenges to the project, the report also mentions discharge of existing wastewater of Lahore directly into the Ravi. The flow of wastewater into the river varies from 65 cusecs to 584,000 cusecs.
Wastewater identified as another hurdle to riverfront project
The report discussed the project and its environmental objectives, calling for restoration of the river’s ecology and natural habitats as per national and international standards.
“The objectives include formation of pollution-free land, air and water as per Pakistan Environmental Protection Act (PEPA)-2012, rehabilitation of the river to an environment-friendly, at least maintaining irrigation surface water standards, creation of bacteria-free water bodies as per national standards, initiation of a ‘green city, green mind and green hand’ campaign to achieve restoration of the ecology, identification of the ways of environmentally improving the project by preventing, minimising, mitigating or compensating any adverse impacts and development of an environmental management plan,” it says.
The report while discussing launching of a mega project, which will actually be a new city at a lengthy stretch along both sides of the Ravi, seeks applying the multiple urban-centre approach that allows formation of urban growth areas with a developed infrastructure amid adjustment of key social and economic drivers. Each city centre will have its own identity, contributing to the establishment of Lahore regional centre.
The Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project is a part of the proposed master plan for Lahore. The report also gives recommendations regarding the master plan. Recommending requirements of the master plan of the Punjab capital, the report seeks removal of the existing wastewater flow into the river, developing a new wastewater system, an engineering solution to the annual flooding problem, a waterfront for the city, comprehensive master plan, enhancing living opportunities and modern transportation system, new industries to overcome unemployment challenges, removal of toxic and public hazards present in the existing river and creating a social, organisational, operational and living setting that supports and enhances the development of economic and the advancement of public life in Lahore.
Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2014