LAHORE - Development always costs much to the general public in Pakistan. Before the ‘homeless’ got ‘compensated’ and the city’s heritage was saved, Lahore’s commuters have been suffering at the hands of Orange Line authorities since the first day in the shape of worst traffic jams.

Waiting for hours on major crossings in the city has become a routine for commuters due to the poorly-managed construction of metro train, which will intersect almost all the leading roads.

The traffic police have also been unable to give a substitute plan to avoid massive congestions on GT Road, MecLeod Road, Multan Road, Singhpura Chowk, Baghbanpura Chowk, Chowk Boarhwal, Lakshami Chowk and other intersections.

Even for those who need to reach their offices at any cost, it is getting impossible to travel though these areas on daily basis. Long queues of traffic at these roads can be witnessed all day long, especially at peak times.

In order to avoid traffic jams, the commuters turn their vehicles towards link roads and streets which add to the miseries of the residents of these areas.

“The authorities and planners are carrying out the construction work without any planning, causing huge mess for commuters and citizens especially residing in adjacent localities of the Metro Train route,” said Muhammad Ali, a trader at Auto Market in front of Engineering University at GT Road.

“They are working in haste which is not only increasing the problems for the citizens but has also exposed their planning abilities. The only way to do it is to change the route of train,” he told The Nation.

Besides the troubles of traffic jams, the daily travelers and residents are suffering from different respiratory diseases caused by clouds of dust on Orange Line route. Not to mention the muddy situation once it rains.

“Since the Lahore High Court ordered the Punjab government to stop construction near 11 heritage sites including Shalimar Bagh and Chauburji, the authorities shifted their entire focus on other sites,” an LDA official told The Nation, requesting anonymity.

“For trying to save time till the court’s approval for construction at these sites, they (authorities) expedited the work in other areas,” he added.

Last month, the Lahore High Court (LHC) ordered suspension of work near 11 heritage sites and ordered the provincial government to move the metro track at least 200 feet away from these sites.

The order was in line with Section 22 of the Antiquities Act, 1975, which says, “No development plan or scheme or new construction on, or within a distance of 200 feet of, a protected immovable antiquity shall be undertaken or executed.”

In a similar case, the LHC had ordered the provincial government in April 2015 to stop work on a signal-free corridor in Lahore. The Supreme Court had later set aside the LHC order giving a green signal to the project.

An LDA spokesman confirmed The Nation that the government had stopped construction on the sites pointed out by the court. “We respect the LHC orders and as far as any decision to change the existing map or route of Orange Line Metro is concerned it all depends on further directions from the court,” the spokesman said.

The Orange Line route passes near Supreme Court building, Chauburji, GPO, Shalimar Garden, Budhu ka Awa, Dai Anga Tomb, Kapurthala House, Jain Mandir, Mahraja Building, Saint Andrews Church Nabha Road, Lahore Cathedral, Naulakha Church and the Centre for Disadvantaged Children near Jain Mandir.

The project has met severe criticism from civil society activists because of its route and affects on businesses and daily life of a large number of citizens. Groups, like the Lahore Bachao movement, have been organising protests on a regular basis.

The UNHCR has also shown apprehensions regarding the project because of potential threats to the stability and beautification of historical sites.

The project has also initiated a debate in Punjab Assembly with Opposition blaming the government of using the funds, allocated for health and other sectors, on Orange Line.

Last month, all the major opposition parties in the province staged a strong demonstration to protest against the project. Few days prior to that, mobs of hundreds attacked the Orange Line site in Samnabad area.