LAHORE - People affected by the Orange Line project have highlighted their plight, claiming the multi-billion dollar project cost Rs21b loss to their business.

During a press conference at Lahore Press Club which was arranged by Lahore Conversation Society yesterday, the affected people demanded adequate compensation from the Punjab government.

Sharing their issues, the displaced people from Parachute Colony asked how one could find shelter for a whole family in Rs1 million.

Traders from Multan Road said that their shops were being acquired for the third time: twice when Multan Road was widened, and the third time for the Orange Line Metro Train.

They said that their business had been destroyed as there was no or little sale in last six months.

A Mcleod Road trader said that he could not afford and had to take his son out of school because of insufficient funds.

A group of hawkers from Nicolson Road said they were under heavy debt, and could only earn Rs100 in a single day. The affected people from Parachute Colony, Kapurthala House and Mcleod Road demanded that metro train be made through a tunnel as originally conceived in the 2007 plan to save their communities, as more than 10,000 people had already been displaced from Old Anarkali alone.

Raheemul Haque of the Lahore Conservation Society said that Orange Metro Train (OMT) project was not discussed in Punjab Assembly and 80MW electricity was available for the train but sadly not for the people. The project would be given Rs14 billion yearly subsidy which was equal to yearly budget of the five largest hospitals of Lahore, he said during the press conference.

Mr Haque also claimed that despite stay orders from the court, residential buildings were being demolished. “At least 12 deaths have been documented; and no consideration has been given to loss of income along the 27.1 km route”, he regretted.

The civil society representatives stressed that the government should stop giving the wrong figure for project cost, when the official documents showed cost of above Rs190.77 billion.

According to them, the research showed that Orange Metro Train project had cost Rs21 billion in business loss primarily of small businesses and hawkers who were extremely poor along the 27-km Raiwind-Multan-Mcleod-Nicolson-GT Road route over the last six months. All this happened because of ill-planning and haphazard construction as the Punjab government did not implement the Environmental Mitigation Plan in the EIA properly, they held.

Renowned artist and conservationist Dr Aijaz Anwar briefed the media that he was harassed by the Punjab police in the name of ‘search operation’ in his area. Human rights activist Nighat Saeed Khan along with McLeod Road Auto Union general secretary Malik Attiq ur Rehman, Hawker Nicolson Road Mian Badr, Mian Ismael Naqshbandi a shopkeeper at Thokar, Multan Road and others spoke on the occasion.