LAHORE - Dwellers of Kachi Abadi at Chaudhry Colony located on Ferozpur Road took to the street against the Elevated Expressway Project, which led to demolition of their houses. They demanded better compensation from the government and alleged that the authorities were paying them below the market rate for relocation of their houses located along the drain.

The residents of 135 houses, which will be demolished, came out on Ferozpur Road at 10am and blocked the road for several hours. They set tyres on fire to block traffic on the road. Long queues of cars, Speedo buses and bikes waited for hours until police came and cleared the road for traffic. The protesters were holding placards inscribed with their demands.

Chaudhry Ashiq Hussan, who is general secretary of PML-N, says the government has paid better compensation to owners of the houses, which are going to be demolished to pave the way for the LOS project. “The government gave Rs1,500 per foot for house structure and 80 percent disturbance allowance. The residents of this colony are demanding Rs1,800 per foot for house structure and 150 percent disturbance allowance,” he said.

An LDA official said on condition of anonymity, “We have already set up a compensation camp in Shadman for this purpose and will resolve the matter according to the law.” He said the Price Assessment Committee had already assessed the DC value, structure value and dislocation value of each house demolished for the project. “The protest is not the right way to resolve this issue. The LDA is ready to resolve this issue as per law,” he said.

DWELLERS SPEAK UP

Musarrat Bibi, resident of Chaudhry Colony, is a paramedic at a government hospital. She is worried about the future of her child and his education after demolition of her house. “You can see this is a small house. My mother lives with us in the upper portion of this already congested house. Where will we go after this? Where ever we will go, we will not find a government school and ultimately have to enroll our children in private schools and pay higher fees.”

She also ran a home tuition centre before becoming a paramedic and she was proud of it. “I will never forget those hard days when I along with my sisters taught children to make both ends meet. We have put our blood and sweat to build this tinny house,” she said.

Musarrat showed this scribe the small area of her house where she lives along with her husband and child and her widowed mother.

This is the story of one such house out of 135 houses of Chadhry Colony Kachi Abadi.

Musarrat’s mother Hamidah Bibi was disappointed with government’s attitude towards the Kachi Abadi residents. Her son Zulfiqar Ali, who works with the Pakistan Railways, said that patwaris and other officials demanded bribe from the residents, but they did not have money to bribe them.

ELEVATED EXPRESSWAY

In May this year the construction of six-kilometre Elevated Expressway from the Ravi River Bridge to Kala Shah Kaku was approved.

Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif approved the project in a meeting held at the CM House. The purpose of the project was to build an intersection to give passage to traffic coming from Gujranwala, Sheikhupura and Shahdra Town to Lahore.

The government of Punjab has planned to construct a 4-lane dual carriageway by using the existing route of Cantonment Drains and Chouburji to connect Jail Road and Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam (The Mall) to M2 Motorway at Babu Sabu Interchange, along and over these drains.

The project will form a shortest link among the busiest roads of Lahore, mainly Main Boulevard (Gulberg), The Mall, Ferozepur Road, Jail Road, Multan Road, Main Boulevard, Gulshan-e-Ravi and Bund Road. Moreover, it will reduce traffic load on all other link-roads, which are connecting Allama Iqbal International Airport to Motorway (M2).

The project has a 10.77km length divided into three stretches. Stretch-A (Package-II), 4.28km in length, named Bund Road, runs from Babu Sabu to Multan Road, 2.13km long Stretch-B (Package-I) continues from Multan Road to LOS and Stretch-C (Package-III), 4.36km in length, runs from Ferozepur Road to Main Boulevard (Gulberg).

Environment Protection Report: People living along Stretch-A are a mix of poor and middle-class families and earn much above the poverty line, more than $2/day per head.

At least 1,715 trees located in the project corridor will be felled. At least three times (up to five times) more trees should be replanted as replacement for the removed trees.

A total of 886.16 kanals of land on both sides of the Cantonment Drain will need to be acquired and there are 563 houses on this land from Main Boulevard (Gulberg) to M2 at Babu Sabu. As a consequence of acquisition of this land, 563 families will be dislocated. The public infrastructure will also be dislocated by this project.

A total of 440 marla land will need to be acquired from the government department, including the data of electric towers/poles, telephone poles, street lights, WASA pumping station and store rooms, PHA nurseries and residences.