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LAHORE: The Technical Experts Committee, a body of the Environment Department of Punjab, has objected to figures and design of the Rs165 billion Orange Line Metro Project and directed the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) to fix the issues in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report. A public hearing on the EIA is scheduled for June 30.

Committee meeting participants met on Wednesday and also discussed other projects.

Sources privy to the meeting told Dawn on Thursday committee members asked the LDA to explain how pedestrians and motorists would cross the fenced or elevated orange line. They said if special paths or passages were mentioned in the EIA report.

The participants also questioned the authenticity of the figures presented by the LDA that the metro train would facilitate 20,000 passengers per hour. They asked the LDA officials about the source of data.

As the LDA officials could not explain the queries, the committee members asked the authority to address the questions in the EIA report.

The participants heard that private land was acquired only where train stations were to be built. Committee members urged the LDA to compensate the land owners at market rates.

The participants, according to the official, asked the LDA officials to meet legal formalities before launching the project to avoid litigation. The land acquisition-related litigation has struck LDA’s Jail Road-Motorway elevated expressway.

The committee also directed the LDA officials to accomplish the orange line project as per its design prepared by both Pakistani and Chinese experts.

The committee took up the motorway project linking Lahore with Abdul Hakeem, Khanewal district. Participants said as the motorway would pass through rural areas, the National Highway Authority (NHA) should build several underpasses, overhead bridges and culverts in such a way that tractor-trolleyes and trucks laden with sugarcane or fodder passed easily.

“We have observed that on Lahore-Islamabad motorway, this important thing was ignored which caused problems for growers,” the official quoted a participant as saying.

The committee members also asked the NHA to avoid displacing people and plan its route through agriculture lands.

“In case of displacement, there should be a viable plan to compensate, resettle and rehabilitate the affected people and redevelop orchards,” he added.

The official said the committee members seemed satisfied with the Kahna-Kaacha flyover project. “The participants asked the LDA to consult the railways and other stakeholders in land acquisition and compensation issues,” the official said.

Prof Ghulam Abbas Anjum, urban development expert and Lahore University of Engineering and Technology professor, heads the committee.

He said the participants discussed matters related to traffic planning, count and impact, land acquisition and commercialization in the wake of mega projects.

“We know the metro train project would surely boom commercialisation along the route,” he said.

“We’ve asked the LDA to allow commercial activity along the orange line route at a certain level without causing environmental issues.

“We appreciated the projects, especially the orange line, and we asked the authorities to address some issues to avert any problem in the future,” he added.

Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2015

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