Muhammad Sohail Janjua - Under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister of Pakistan Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and due to the untiring efforts of Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, construction work on Pakistan’s first ever Lahore Orange Line Metro Train (LOMT) Project is currently underway.

The 27 kilometers long track of LOMT is being constructed between Ali Town at Raiwind Roads and Dera Gujran at G.T.Road. Passing through the busy and densely populated areas of the provincial metropolis, the Lahore Orange Line Metro Train will provide an honourable and quick mode of transport initially to more than 250000 commuters daily. Later, this number will grow up to 500000 passengers daily. The end to end journey will be covered in just 45 minutes which was being covered in 2.5 hours presently.

The route of the LOMT has been adopted after carrying out extensive traffic count surveys. The track has been designed in such a manner that minimum land acquisition was required for its construction resulting in displacement of fewer people.

A total of 982 kanal of land is being acquired for this project. Award for acquisition of 854 kanal of land has been announced. Award for 88 kanal will be announced shortly. Announcement of award for 10 kanal land of Qazalbash Trust at Mecleod Road has been withheld due to a stay order by the court. Another 30 kanal land for this project is being acquired through grant in aid.

Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has approved generous compensation package for the properties being acquired for LOMT. This package is unprecedented as well.

A sum of Rs. 13.80 billion has been allocated for paying compensation to the owners and occupants of properties that are being acquired for LOMT.

LOMT is the first ever project in the history of Pakistan wherein services of State Bank of Pakistan’s approved evaluators have been hired for evaluating properties being acquired for the project. On the basis of their, rate of compensation of land has been doubled for this project comparing to the land acquired for development projects completed earlier in the city.

Land owners had been compensated on government rate or a little more than the government rate for their land acquired for previous projects. Compensation for the land acquired for LOMT is much higher than the government rate of compensation.

For example compensation was paid at the rate of Rs. 6 to 7 lak per marla for the land acquired for executing project for construction and widening of Multan Road, Lahore, in 2010. Later on cost of land was paid at the rate of Rs. 9 lak per marla for another development project at Multan Road in 2012. After only four years compensation was being paid at the rate of Rs. 2.3 million per marla for land acquired for LOMT along Multan Road, Lahore.

A total of Rs. 2.5 billion compensation had been paid for land acquired for Lahore Metro Bus Project. But a sum of Rs. 19.80 has been allocated for paying compensation of acquired properties for LOMT project. This figure reflects better rate of compensation for land acquired for this project. On the orders of the Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, compensation is being paid for acquired properties on a rate which is better than the market rate.

In the first phase, a sum of Rs. 12.04 billion has been allocated for payment of compensation for properties acquired through announcement of award.

Besides the cost of their land, the owners are being paid additional amount under the following heads.

(i) Acquisition charges, 15 per cent.

(ii) Structure compensation

(iii) Shifting and disturbance allowance

(iv) Business loss.

As a result of these decisions, owners have been paid Rs. 4.5 million or even Rs.4.8 million per marla for their commercial property at certain places.

Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif approved a special package of Grant in Aid for the occupants of certain places and buildings who had been residing there for decades without any ownership rights.

A sum of Rs. 1.60 billion has been allocated for compensating such families through Grant in Aid.

Properties housed by such families have been divided into three categories for payment of compensation.

(i) A lump sum amount of Rs. One million has been paid to each of the resident family at multi-storey buildings (Bengali Building and Maharaja Building). Most of these families had only one single room under their occupation, hence they have been paid Rs. One million for their one room. There had 100 families been living in Bengali Building and 58 in Maharaja Building.

(ii) For properties in Lahore Khas area, (Kapoor Thalla House, Katcha Lake Road, Jain Mandir, Edward Road etc.) price of the residential properties has been paid Rs. 2.5 million per marla.

(iii) Commercial properties have been compensated at the rate of Rs. 3.5 million per marla in this area.

One Window Operation of Lahore Development Authority, launched on the 1st of February under the direction of Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, is still continued.

Besides main office of LDA at Johar Town , three special camps have also been set up where staff of all the relevant departments including treasury, revenue and even banks has been deputed for completing all the formalities with regard to payment of compensation under one roof.

Payment was also being disbursed on the same day a person applied for it.

In the first phase, a sum of Rs. 13.80 billion is being paid as compensation for the property for which award has been announced as well as the property being acquired through Grant in Aid.

As many as 2300 out of the total 2700 property owners have received compensation of their acquired property amounting to a total of Rs.6.75 billion.

Moreover, shifting of mosques, schools and government buildings will also be carried out on official expanse. A sum of Rs. 1.5 billion has also been allocated for this purpose. Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif is personally monitoring the payment of compensation and regularly gets updates from the three one window camps through video link.

He personally visited the camp established at University of Engineering and Technology and reviewed the situation.

Provincial ministers have also been deputed at these camps who remain there throughout the day and provide all possible assistance to the applicants who come there for receiving payment.