LAHORE: A lack of funding and decision-making allegedly on the part of the government is delaying launch of the canal parallel road project -- a Rs4.5 billion mega infrastructure scheme approved by the government in 2016.

The project of a structure plan road is meant to reduce traffic pressure on Canal Road (especially from Thokar to Shahkam Chowk and Southern Bypass), allowing a signal-free commute from Expo Centre (Johar Town) to new Defence Road and Ring Road, Dawn has learnt.

“The project had been approved in 2016. Later, its PC-1 was also approved in 2018 but no funds were allocated (except their reflection in the Annual Development Programme) despite knowing importance of this scheme,” an official of the Traffic Engineering and Transport Planning Agency (Tepa) told Dawn. “The project should have been given importance since it was meant to connect several posh and developing areas with each other besides reducing traffic load on Canal Road (from Thokar to Shahkam Chowk),” the official deplored.

The structure plan guides the civic agencies about the development or redevelopment of an area by defining the future development and land use patterns, areas of open space, the layout and nature of infrastructure (including roads and transportation links), and other key features and constraints that influence how the effects of development are to be managed. Construction of road linking Canal Road with Wahdat Road and Karim Block (Iqbal Town) is one of the several structure plan roads constructed and planned in Lahore.

“The proposal of canal parallel road had been envisaged and approved in 2016. In 2018, its PC-1 was finally approved for about Rs4.5 billion or so which included Rs2.5 billion for 150-foot wide road construction and Rs2 billion for the land acquisition. According to alignment, the road originates from the Expo Centre, enters Aitchison Society, Rasoolpura village, Nawab Town and the Punjab University housing scheme after crossing Raiwind Road and Abdul Sattar Edhi Road. It then enters Rajput Housing scheme and touches new Defence Road via EME society, Izmir Town, Gulbahar Society, Jubilee Town and some other areas.

“While the Indus Hospital is almost ready and various other projects of public interest are also about to complete in the private sector, the Canal Road will have more traffic in near future. Moreover, the completion of Shahkam Chowk flyover will increase traffic load. So the canal parallel road which has already been approved must be launched with provision of adequate funding,” demands a resident of Jubilee Town.

“You cannot imagine how we reach Thokar onwards after facing traffic congestion on Canal Road.”

According to an LDA official, the project has been discussed from time to time and this government once agreed to allocate funds in this regard. But, later, the project was surprisingly skipped from the priority list. “I think the government must launch this project since it is beneficial for the public at large,” he added.

LDA Director General Ahmad Aziz Tarar said he didn’t know the current status of this project. “I will let you know after checking from the officers concerned,” he said.

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2021

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