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LAHORE: The Cantonment administration has asked the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) not to execute a signal-free project from the Upper Mall to Allama Iqbal International Airport as it involves cutting/uprooting of over 250 trees.

The Rs2.3 billion signal-free project has been approved by the Punjab government which involves construction of underpasses at all intersections between the airport and the Upper Mall (Mian Meer overhead bridge), according to official sources in the LDA.

“In a recent briefing on the project, the LDA officials have been asked by the army not to execute the project as many grown up trees (over 250) will have to be cut,” a senior official told Dawn.

He said the project in the Cantonment area had been approved by the Punjab government because a large number of civilians and military people used this major road/route.

When asked what would be the fate of the project and the allocated funds after refusal by the Cantonment management, he said the officials concerned in the Cantonment area had given a new proposal.

“They have asked the LDA to use the funds for another approved project -- the construction of an overhead bridge between Gulberg and Cantonment,” he said.

He said under the previous plan this project had to be executed through provision of funds (50/50) by the Punjab government (LDA) and the Cantonment management.

The Cantonment wanted to use Rs2.3bn on the construction of 1.7km long overhead bridge originating from Hussain Chowk (Gulberg).

“According to my observation, the Cantonment admin lacks funds and can hardly share 50pc of the total cost required for the overhead bridge project. Since it has rejected the signal-free project to save trees, it wants to allocate the funds for the other project,” the official said.

When asked how the Rs2.3bn funds allocated for the signal- free project could be used for executing other project, he said it could be done with the approval of the Punjab government.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2016