LAHORE: The delay in resumption of construction work on the Rs3.10bn Akbar Chowk flyover and underpass project is increasing the cost fast as the project’s environment impact assessment (EIA) report submitted to the University of Engineering’s department for vetting may take at least one more week and the start of the work in about a fortnight.
On the other hand, the case against the project is still pending before the Lahore High Court (LHC) which had ordered the authorities to send the EIA report to the UET for vetting.
Meanwhile, the Punjab government has directed the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) to ensure transplantation of 59 trees in a bid to improve the environment in the area instead of using the traditional method of ‘chopping’, Dawn has learnt.
“The project team has no option but to wait as we cannot resume the construction work until the LHC allows us to do so,” a senior LDA official working on the project told Dawn.
Court case, EIA report sent to UET behind delay
“On the last hearing, a week before or so, the court had ordered the authorities concerned to send the EIA report of the project to the Institute of Environmental Engineering and Research of the UET for vetting of the experts along with their recommendations within 15 days. It was sent and now it is currently being studied by the UET’s environment department. We are hoping that they will vet it by the end of next week,” the official, requesting anonymity, said.
He added that before the last week hearing, the court, after stalling the work on the project keeping over environmental issues, had sought a viable traffic diversion plan, which was also submitted to it subsequently. After receiving the traffic plan, the court sought sending the EIA report to the UET, the official noted.
“Though they (the UET experts) are bound to send the report back to us for onward submission to the court within 15 days (by the end of next week), let’s see when they do it. However, we hope they will do it within the time limit,” the official said, adding that after having the report from UET, the LDA and the Punjab Environment Department would submit it to the court.
“What will be the next court order after having this report, we don’t know. However, we think that the work is likely to be resumed by end of the ongoing month.”
Talking about the cost escalation due to delay in resumption of work, the official said the government must be ready to face revision of the approved cost of the project and price escalation that may go beyond five to 10pc of the total cost.
“The escalation of cost is happening on a daily basis, keeping in view the dollar price, inflation etc. The work on the project was launched on Feb 28 and it was stalled on the court orders on March 3. If it is resumed on May 1, the government will have to face around two-month cost escalation ranging between 5 to 10pc,” the official maintained.
The Punjab caretaker chief minister Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi presided over a meeting on the status of the project and directed the LDA engineering wing to use latest techniques/machines to uproot, relocate and transplant 59 trees in the project area.
“There shouldn’t be any complaint as all trees planned to be relocated must be transplanted after uprooting instead of chopping or cutting,” the CM said while speaking to officers. He said before launching construction work, a viable and trouble free traffic diversion plan must be in place.
Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2023
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