LAHORE – Tepa is going to demolish more buildings and additional parts of some of the already partially razed buildings for the Metro Bus System, TheNation has learnt on Monday.

The officials have re-marked a number of buildings for demolition as the project has once again amended to widen the road beneath the MBS flyover and make the planned bus stations more spacious, besides construction of pedestrian underpasses at various locations.

Whereas, the stakeholders and affectees allege that the Tepa (Traffic Engineering and Transport Planning Agency) officials went ahead with re-marking their buildings to punish them for their staging protest demonstrations, twice during the last week, against the provincial government and the departments concerned over plans to pull down their buildings.

“Earlier some of the officials of the Agency were ready to take bribes for ignoring their buildings during the demolition operation but later, after the protests, they changed their decision and marked their buildings Monday morning,” they said, claiming that the ‘bargaining’ process was going well then and only ‘amount’ (of bribe money) was to be finalised.

A stakeholder Wajid Hussain said that Tepa officials came on Monday and started marking front portions of a number of buildings for demolition; and then, they left saying these portions would be razed within a couple of days. He said that government had already torn down part of his building at the Lytton Road – acquiring a total 20 feet front space, including the parking space. “But now they have again marked his property to rip the building another 10-feet deep, which is going to be an irreparable loss for me and my family.”

“If the act is in the public interest and not to punish them for staging protest demonstrations for their legal rights, their only demand from the government is a reasonable price or compensation amount against their properties,” said another stakeholder Riaz.

He said earlier the affectees were made to pay around 20 percent of the compensation amount they got from the government to the patwaris, who exploited them while compiling lists of the properties to be hit by the MBS,” he alleged. Nauman, also a Litton Road shopkeeper, termed the project a white elephant. He said a large number of citizens and their businesses suffered due to construction of a flyover.

Moreover, most of the affectees of BRTS project are still awaiting compensation as the provincial government and Lahore Development Authority (LDA) have even failed to compile complete lists of the demolished properties. And that more buildings have been marked for demolition, the affectees fear that compensation to them might not materialise in the ongoing year, not even before the elections. In case of a change in government, the chances of redress would become even slimmer, they added.

Israr Saeed, the project director of this section of the project, was not available for his version. But some said the 32-km-long Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) is already behind the schedule just because of repeated changes in the design of different sections of the project.

“The officials of the concerned departments always have been in confusion and sluggish because they had to stop the work on various sections as they repeatedly received new directions from the government high-ups who modified the design many times,” they said. The buildings’ demolition plans had also to be readjusted accordingly, they added.

Earlier, one of MBS project directors Mazhar Khan had told The Nation that the project involves construction of the longest flyover of the South Asia as it starts from Muslim Town Morr and ends at Data Darbar.

He had claimed that the work on the entire BRTS project was to be completed by end of October 2012 but Tepa failed to complete it on time. He said that later the deadline was rescheduled to November end. But giving the pace of work, this deadline too seems to be unrealistic.

Also on Tuesday night, the authorities pulled down the banners pasted by the residents, demanding compensation. According to the residents, the government took the action to crush their move.