The government will ask the Supreme Court to review its decision in the Canal Road widening case to also allow the expansion of the section from Doctors Hospital to Thokar Niaz Beg, said Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Saturday.
Speaking at the ground breaking ceremony for the project, the chief minister said that unless this section of the road was also expanded, the traffic congestion problem would not be resolved. He said that the road was a bottleneck to traffic entering Lahore and would remain so unless this section was also widened.
“We will not touch this part without the court’s permission,” he added. “We hope the court will accept our humble request and allow us to go through with the rest of the project.”
Communication and Works (C&W) Department officials said the project would take at least 120 days to complete, but the chief minister urged them to finish it in 90 days. He said the road was the busiest in Lahore and traffic jams on the Canal affected dozens of other roads. He urged drivers to be patient and cooperative while work on the road was going on.
Earlier, the C&W secretary briefed the chief minister about the project, which will cost Rs1.5 billion. A total of 3.525 kilometres of road will be widened, in four stages: from The Mall to Jail Road; from Jail Road to FC College; from the Punjab University to Jinnah Hospital; and from Jinnah Hospital to Doctors Hospital.
The Planning and Development Department will disburse funds for the project, the National Logistics Cell is the contractor, the National Engineering Services of Pakistan the consultant, and the Traffic Engineering and Planning Agency (TEPA) will assist the C&W Department in executing the project.
Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) Director General Abdul Jabbar Shaheen told the chief minister that workers had started chopping down 568 trees in the green belts on either side of the Canal to create space for the extra lanes. He said that the PHA was complying with the Supreme Court’s orders to plant four trees for each one cut down and had arranged for the plantation of 2,272 saplings.
These saplings, he said, would be planted in the area between the Mughalpura and Harbanspura underpasses.
Traffic will be diverted onto the service lanes while the work continues, said City Traffic Police Officer Captain Ahmad Mobin in his briefing on the traffic plan.
He said that 1.5 lanes on the main road will also be open to traffic, but only to public transport and school vans. Private vehicles would be instructed to only use the service lanes.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2011.
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