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LAHORE: Lahore Ring Road’s southern loop will have three mini-forests called ‘oxygen pockets’ besides rest areas for motorists.

The portion, planned to be inaugurated on Aug 14 next year, will facilitate a large number of residents of several housing societies situated in southern Lahore. The three oxygen pockets and the rest areas with tuck shops will be developed at Kamahan, Halloki and near Lake City.

“The oxygen pockets will be developed through dense forestation reflecting a look of jungles along the southern loop,” Lahore Ring Road Authority Director (Engineering) Najam Wahid said.

SL-1, 2, 3 will give access to several housing schemes

The dense forestation areas would be developed at various pieces of land measuring about 170-kanal in total and the same would appear to be a great source of oxygen in an environment of pollution, he claimed while talking to Dawn.

The Rs25 billion southern loop, which is currently under construction, would consist of over 30km, having 11 bridges, six interchanges, six lanes and 18 subways for motorists and pedestrians and its three portions -- SL-1, 2 and 3 would give access to several housing schemes including Sui Gas Society, Ashiana Quaid, DHA Phase-9, Ferozepur Road, Hudiara, Halloki, LDA City, Fazaia, Lake City, Khayaban-i-Ameen, Raiwind Road, Wapda Town, Valencia Town, Johar Town, Bahria Town and Maraka.

At present, work on the SL-1 and 2 is under way, whereas the construction of SL-3, which is passing through the Bahria Town, is yet to be launched due to some disputes with the town administration over construction of 71 houses falling on the ring road route.

“This is the project being executed by the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) in collaboration with the Punjab government under the public-private partnership mode, as the total cost includes Rs4.25bn equity from the government,” LRRA Director (Admin &Finance) Shahid Rehman told Dawn.

He said the company would recover the cost through toll collection in a period of 25 years. However, the LRRA would decide, revise and notify the toll rates every year.

Similarly, the operation of rest areas, oxygen pockets and other administrative affairs would be the LRRA’s responsibility, he said.

Mr Rehman said there would be a 5 per cent annual increase in toll. A notification of the revised toll rates issued on Dec 21 was implemented from 23rd.

According to the notification, Rs20, 40, 40, 100, 120 and 200 would be charged on cars/ jeep, Hiace wagons, minibuses, buses, loader pickups and trucks/trailers, respectively.

The LRRA was previously charging Rs15, 45, 75, 90 and Rs150 on such vehicles entry to the northern loop, he said.

According to LRRA Chairperson Abdullah Sumbal, work on the SL-3 was delayed due to some legal issues.

“We are trying hard to resolve the issues with Bahria Town administration amicably,” Sumbal told this reporter.

However, he said alignment on this particular stretch would not be changed since there was no alternate land available with the government.

Published in Dawn, December 26th, 2016