Construction of the signal-free corridor project from Jail road to Liberty roundabout has been resumed by the order of the Supreme Court, after it overruled Lahore High Court’s decision to annul it. Even with the detrimental environmental and communal impact of the project, the Supreme Court had to restart construction. The roads had already been ripped up months ago. Machinery stood idle, right in the center of Jail Road - a commuting nightmare, as well as an eyesore.

Now that construction has been restarted, the largest and most unfortunate causality is the trees lining the sides of Jail Road. The development of Lahore by the PML-N sees Lahore as a concrete city, ignoring the lush ecosystem of the city, and well as it native characteristics. It is almost as if the CM and PM want Lahore to become like Dubai or Riyadh. High-rise buildings and giant causeways are not native to Lahore’s landmarks and skyline. We do not need these. Lahore is a city of trees, of bazaars, of historical monuments. We would like to see these preserved before more streets with eight lanes and metro stations are built.

Building wider roads and transforming a naturally beautiful city into a concrete jungle for the 8% of the population that own vehicles, is unfair to the rest of the non-urban population. The Punjab Chief Minister has defended the various PML-N road projects, satisfying that they will cut down on the time it takes to commute, but is waking up later than usual to get to work on time, more important to us than conserving nature? Our priorities reflect those of our government’s, which spends precious resources on unnecessary infrastructure projects, rather than education, health, energy and ecological sustainability.

The construction vehicles will clear out once the job is complete, leaving a shiny new road for the few to enjoy. Most people will not mourn the loss of these trees from the comfort of their air conditioned cars; trees that provide shade for many in the scorching heat. The city is becoming increasingly hostile to the pedestrian and those who use cycles and motorbikes. The loss of flora on Main Boulevard and Jail Road will perhaps be realised twenty years from now, when more of the city is bare and the air more opaque and suffocating than it is today.