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LAHORE: Land acquisition for the Orange Line Metro Train Project will not only disturb routine life of a number of residents, but also result in loss of infrastructure, commercial and cultural activities and a change in land use.

A total of 1,165 kanal and 15 marla is being acquired for the metro train’s 26 stations, including two underground. The acquisition also includes 731 kanal to access a depot, stabling yard and electric sub-stations that will be constructed to provide uninterrupted power supply for continuous operations on the track.

According to the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report, which was discussed in a public hearing on June 30, construction of the project will require land to be acquired in various parts of the city.

“The land acquisition will result in loss of infrastructure, commercial activities, disturb people and alter existing land use,” the report reads.

Though the report mentions compensation to affectees in exchange for their property, structures, plots, a majority of participants in the public hearing had sought compensation as per market rate of the properties besides structure and disturbance cost. It finally forced the government to accept demands of those whose properties would be acquired.

According to District Price Assessment Committee of the City District Government of Lahore, a number of private properties would be acquired near the planned train stations in Dera Gujran, Islam Park, Salamatpura, Mahmood Booti, Shalamar Gardens, Baghbanpura, University of Engineering and Technology (G.T. Road), Sultanpura, railway station, Lahore Hotel, Lakshmi Chowk, Hall Road, Anarkali, Chauburji, LOS, Gulshan-i-Ravi, Samanabad, Yateem Khana Chowk, Scheme Morr, Shahnoor, Sabzazaar, Kharak, Awan Town, Wahdat Road (near Mansoora), Mansoora, Hanjarwal, Canal View, Thokar Niaz Baig and Ali Town.

The ongoing construction will also have environmental impacts on civic life through possible soil erosion, contamination on roadside and for those engaged in the construction.

“Excavation of earth, clearing of vegetation and land levelling during construction will have an environmental impact on the people. This impact can be limited by keeping excavations confined to specified foundation spots as per the approved engineering drawings,” the EIA report explains.

“We cannot sleep well since we heard about acquisition of my and a number of others’ houses in the Katchi Abadi within the Railway Colony,” Ijaz, a resident, told Dawn on Friday.

As many as 40 houses in this locality have been marked for acquisition for the metro train’s elevated track. He said though they protested in front of the Lahore Press Club a few days ago, but none of the government officials bothered to listen to them.

“We have decided to save our house as well as our routine business, gatherings and culture by all means. And if the government does not change the route, which can save our houses and routine life, we will not allow construction work here,” he warned.

Published in Dawn, November 11th, 2015