LAHORE: The environment department has approved the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report of the Lahore Orange Line Metro Train Project on certain conditions.
Accordingly, it has asked the executing agencies to spend one per cent of the total scheme cost on tree plantation and address other environment-related issues.
Meanwhile, the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) and its subsidiary Traffic Engineering and Transport Planning Agency (Tepa) are set to complete the project piling load tests within next 15 days or so as the requisite work is under way under technical assistance of the China Railways (CR) and Norinko, an international joint venture that has to accomplish the Rs165 billion project.
Take a look: Rs165bn Lahore metro train project approved
Officials claim that since the EIA report fulfilled all requirements, the department approved it after it was presented before the public at large in a hearing and two committees of experts studied it recommending various mitigation measures to be taken by the project executing agencies.
“We have approved the report conditionally. Under these conditions, the agencies (LDA, Tepa and others) are liable to spend Rs1.65 billion (one per cent of the total project cost) to address the environment-related issues,” Naseemur Rehman, Environment Department’s director, told Dawn on Sunday.
Process of pile load test afoot
As for other conditions, he said the agencies would follow the entire National Environmental Quality Standards and other measures while implementing the project.
During all construction phases right from piling tests to civil work to mechanical works etc., the agencies would be liable to ensure proper safety of construction workers and the people living near the sites/camp offices, waste management, water, sanitation and drainage, traffic management, uprooting or cutting of trees and replacement with more tree plantation, safety of buildings and heritage sites on the project road (from Ali Town to Dera Gujran via Multan Road and Railway Station), land acquisition, compensation and resettlement or rehabilitation of the affected people.
“We have advised the government to minimise acquisition of land for the project as it badly affects routine business/life of a common person. The government has already acted upon this and minimised it after it changed design of the project by keeping all the train stations (except two that would be underground while crossing The Mall) elevated. And now the land acquisition will only be for the stairs at grade (ground) to reach the stations,” he said.
He said the department had also sought total coordination between the executors and the line departments such as Lesco, Wasa, archeology etc., during construction phases. He said since the department in the light of the EIA’s public hearing had recommended offering market rates to those whose land would be acquired, the government had committed to so by constituting an assessment committee.
The LDA and Tepa are conducting project pile tests (each of 1,000 ton) at various locations of the route including one near Shahnoor Studio (Multan Road). Besides Multan Road, the pile tests, according to officials, are being done near GPO Chowk (The Mall) and some other important locations. Pile load test facilitates the engineers in having information on ultimate bearing capacity but not settlement behaviour besides determining that if the load is taken up by the stratum designed or if the centre of resistance is at the design location in piles as suggested or required.
“We hope that the pile load test exercise will complete soon after which the engineering officials will start the civil work,” Tepa Additional Chief Engineer Khalid Alvi said. He said detail design of the project had been completed by CR-Norinko in collaboration with Nespak, LDA and Tepa.
He said the entire civil nature infrastructural work would be completed by the LDA. And the mechanical/electrical works related to laying of track, bringing and running trains, signals, control room, operations would be done by the joint venture.
Published in Dawn, July 27th, 2015