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KARACHI, July 26: The progress made in respect of multi-billion rupees Lyari Expressway Project came under review at a high-level meeting held under the chairmanship of Sindh Governor Mohammedmian Soomro at the Governor’s House here on Thursday.

The meeting was attended, among others, by Chairman, National Highway Authority, Maj-Gen Farrukh Javed, Sindh chief secretary K.B. Rind, DCO Shafiqur Rehman Paracha and other officials.

The NHA chairman briefed the governor about the progress achieved so far in respect of the expressway.

During the meeting, it was observed from comments of various persons that there is some misconception/misunderstanding about the Lyari Expressway.

It was explicitly clarified that this project is a boon both to the residents of the area of influence outside the riverbed as well as to those living in the riverbed itself.

Some 150,000 persons are living in the flood plain of the river in very unhygienic, unsafe and dangerous conditions.

The worst flood event in Karachi on June 30, 1977, took 248 lives of river-bed residents, apart from causing a colossal loss in damages and destruction to properties.

The expressway project, it was pointed out, foresees relocation of river-bed population to safe and healthier places and stop new encroachments in the riverbed.

The meeting was informed that the government of Sindh, through the city government, is looking after this very important component of the project and the task is being attended to with due care, zeal and no compromises.

The meeting was told that whole concept of design has been repeatedly explained by the NHA in meetings and discussions at various forums, held since the onset of the project and a complete set of drawings, based on finalized detailed design, was handed to the KMC for a public display so that the people could be acquainted with the details and dimensions of the project.

The project has been designed for an extreme flood based on 50 years return period i.e. the greatest flood that occurred during the last 50 years.

The huge flood in June 1977 that killed 248 people living in the river-bed is the occurrence of not so distant past. Hundreds of people still remember that it was a huge flood which devastated a vast area.

It was stated that most of the people now being displaced and relocated live in this flood plain. However, to build the expressway on the banks of Lyari Rivers space is required in the form of Right of Way to accommodate the expressway embankments that will also perform as flood protection dykes.

To acquire the Right of Way for this purpose, it was inevitable that some houses from river banks be also relocated. This expressway will not only provide flood protection to the adjacent areas but also discourage re-encroachments of the river-bed.

As regards Lyari Expressway versus Northern Bypass, it was observed that the Expressway mainly aims at resolving traffic congestion problem within its area of influence that spreads across the metropolis of Karachi, while providing shortest route to the port traffic.

The Northern Bypass will serve basically the up-country traffic consisting mainly of cargo trucks plying to and from Karachi Port. Its contribution towards mitigating adverse traffic conditions shall only be limited is, therefore, evident that both projects serve different essential purposes. Therefore, both are required.

The Northern Bypass shall serve as a direct approach to Central Asian region through the coastal highway that it connects.

On the occasion, Governor Soomro said that the project should be completed as per schedule.

He said the project was in the interest of people of Karachi. They are being shifted from unhygienic conditions to better conditions.

For this purpose they are not only being provided plots but also cash to help construct their houses.

Mr Soomro said that the project will bring improvement in the living conditions of people besides bringing an end to congestion and improvement in environmental conditions.

This, in turn, would help the inflow of investment which would be used for development of industrial base.

He asked the people not to be swayed away by misleading propaganda and asked them to cooperate with the administration for an early completion of the project.

The governor asked the city government to take the people and area residents into confidence.

Mr Soomro urged the people agitating against the Lyari Expressway project to observe restraint and assured that the government will resolve all the issues and redress grievances of the affectees of the project.

The Lyari Expressway project is a 14 year old dream of city fathers and planners that has now come true due to personal interest of President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, he said.