ISLAMABAD: The Leh Expressway dubbed as a mega project to end road congestion in Rawalpindi, comes with an environmental cost of chopping of at least 5,000 trees, sources said on Saturday.
According to official sources, the present map of the project shows that some 5,000 trees coming on its route will be uprooted during the completion of this project.
PM’s Advisor on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam said that the project was being constructed for the facilitation of the public and in the larger interest of the people, some trees would have to be cut down to make way for the expressway.
Fast-track connectivity: CM Buzdar gives go-ahead for Leh Expressway project
“No doubt trees paly an important role in keeping the environment clean therefore, an environmental impact survey will be carried out before the project is kicked off,” said Aslam.
He added that the government would try to cut down fewer numbers of trees. If many trees were cut, the government would plant fast growing myriad trees as compensation.
The citizens of Rawalpindi, Riaz Raja Jehangir, and Sarfaraz Malik demanded that the government should soon start this project while they added that Leh Expressway should rapidly be completed whereas they also urged the government to plant more trees than those being cut down during the construction of Expressway.
The feasibility report for this project was prepared in the tenure of former President Pervez Musharraf on the personal desire of the current Federal Minister for Railways, Sheikh Rasheed. However, the following governments stopped the project.
The initial cost of the Leh Expressway was calculated to be around Rs18 billion. Today it has been calculated at Rs80 billion.
Subsequently, Shekih Rasheed Ahmed announced to resume this project after his victory in the 2018 General Elections. Later, he was appointed as the focal person of Leh Expressway and Flood Channel project by the government of Tehreek-e-Insaf.
The current government decided to prepare feasibility report of the project under the supervision of Sheikh Rasheed with the consultation of Ministry of Planning, Development & Reform as well as Punjab government along with all related departments.
Government mulls extending Leh Expressway by 8km
The length of the Leh Expressway project has been increased from 19 kilometres to 21 kilometres.
The project will start from the Soan River and will extend to Peshawar Mor after passing through IG Principal Road. The project will also provide interlink for Islamabad International Airport and Islamabad Secretariat. The project will also have two interchanges, 11 flyovers and three underpasses. The expressway will also have a big field channel and a treatment plant for sewerage water, the output from which will be used for irrigation.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 3rd, 2019.
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