LAHORE - The Lahore Development Authority (LDA) has stopped construction work on the Orange Line Metro Train near 11 heritage sites in the city, in compliance with the Lahore High Court orders.
An LDA spokesman told The Nation yesterday that the government immediately ordered higher authorities of LDA to stop work on the sites pointed out by the court till further order. “We respect the orders of LHC and so far as any decision to change the existing map or route of Orange Line Metro is concerned it all depends on courts directions on the next hearing,” he added.
The Lahore High Court on Thursday ordered the provincial government to move the Orange Line Metro track away at least 200 feet from heritage sites, and ordered that construction work near the historical buildings to be stopped on an immediate basis.
Punjab Government spokesman Zaeem Qadri came in favour of the project, saying that Orange Line Metro Train will provide high quality transport facilities to thousands of citizens. He also ruled out the possibility of damage to any historical place of Lahore.
“The route of Orange Line Metro Train has been designed keeping in view the preservation and importance of historical places and experts of Archeological and Environment Departments, which have issued NOC for this project,” Qadri told the media.
The train 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 Centre for Disadvantaged Children near Jain Mandir. The project has severe criticism from civil society activists because of its route and the disturbance it has been causing to the businesses and daily lives of the people affected by the construction.
Activist groups, like the #Lahore Bachao Movement, have been organising protests on a regular basis.
UNHCR has also shown apprehensions regarding the project because of potential threats to the stability and beautification of historical sites.
Furthermore, the opposition leadership has also given two-day ultimatum to the Punjab government regarding answers related to the project. The opposition has asked Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to come to the Punjab Assembly and clear the objections regarding the Orange Line Metro Train Project.
Information Secretary of Lahore Conservation Society Dr Ajaz Anwar welcomed the LHC decision. “The decision will save the heritage sites. There cannot be compromise on our identity and heritage. We are not against development but tried to convince the government to change the route of Orange Line Metro Train .”
“Now after the orders it is very much clear that government has no option but to change the route. It is due to the fact that the area is congested and if the rule that train track must be 200 feet has to be followed there is no space left for the train.
“For example the GPO, Supreme Court Building, Chauburji the track has been built 20 to 50 feet away from the sites. There is no space for government to build the track 200 feet away,” he added.
“The only way to do it is to change the route of train. Instead of facilitating the people government is creating difficulties in daily life of people,” Dr Ajaz further explained.