LAHORE - Opposition parties in Punjab yesterday jointly protested the construction of China-funded Orange Line Metro Train project.

Led by Opposition Leader in Punjab Assembly Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, the demonstration was held at GPO Chowk followed by a rally till Faisal Chowk.

Leaders and supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan Awami Tehreek, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), residents affected by the project and civil society members participated in the demonstration.

PTI’s Rasheed asked the Punjab government to ensure more than 25 per cent payment against the market rate to the people affected by the project before vacating their homes and shops.

“The assembly should be informed about the terms and conditions of the Chinese loan acquired for the project,” he added.

He further asked the government to ensure non-transfer of funds allocated in budget for health, education and other basic human needs to the metro train project.

The protesting leaders also called for ensuring protection of historical buildings like Chauburji, Shalimar Gardens, Baba Moj Darya, Mizar Shah Chiragh, Gulabi Building, Aiwan-e-Auqaf, Bhuddoka Aawa, Lakshmi Building, Qazalbash Waqf and other sites which are being said to be affected by the project.

Holding placard and banners, scores of protestors chanted slogans against the government and kept block the Mall Road for traffic. Those who addressed the protestors included Mian Aslam Iqbal, Shoaib Siddique, Waleed Iqbal and Dr Yasmin Rashid of PTI; Samina Khalid Ghurki and Barrister Amir Hassan of PPP; Dr Waseem Akhtar and Zikrullah Mujahid of JI; Mian Muneer of PML-Q; and Noorullah Siddiqui, Sajid Bhatti, and Arif Chaudhary of PAT.

Addressing the protestors, the leaders said: “The stubborn chief minister (Shahbaz Sharif) was bent upon misusing the funds and usurping the rights of the citizen by force.”

“This project is not for the people but only to provide additional income to the corrupt rulers and their cronies,” they added.

On Sunday, hundreds of people staged a violent demonstration in Dera Gujran near Manawan in continuing row of anger against the multi-billion Orange Line. The enraged residents of the area attacked the workers and machinery on construction site, burnt tires and blocked the main Grand Trunk Road for traffic for hours.

They said they were not being paid according to the District Collector rates.

The Lahore Development Authority is constructing the Orange Line with the investment of China.

The project - going to cost $1.6 billion and complete within 27 months - is being said a part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The train route will be 27.1 kilometer long spread from Ali Town to Thokar Niaz Baig to Dera Gujran.