The River Ravi Commission (RRC) resolved on Monday to move Lahore High court against the Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project (RRUDP) for obstructing a proposed bioremediation project in Lahore.
Commission Chairman Dr Kausar Abdullah Malik said the decision was made after considering a presentation by the Lahore Development Authority on Monday. The LDA is supervising the RRUDP.
LDA representatives including RRUDP Project Director Muazzam Iqbal Sipra and LDA Applied Economics Specialist Bilal Qidwai tried to persuade commission members to wait till the end of August when a consultant, hired by the Punjab government, would submit a feasibility report. They said it was premature to say anything about the project at this point.
Sipra said the government planned to purchase land on both sides of the river and to sell it after developing it.
Qidwai said they were considering ways to treat waste water before it went into the river. He said according to the initial plan, it had been decided that the river would be 1000 metres wide and 100 metres deep with a buffer zone on both sides.
Malik said that earlier governments had undertaken initiatives in 1989, 1999 and 2007 to treat waste water and to restore the river’s natural ecology but had not been successful. He said the commission had been trying to implement the bioremediation project for two years but had had to face one impediment after another. He said the RRUDP was yet another delaying tactic. He said the Lahore High Court had asked them about developments on the project. He said it was a good opportunity to take the matter to court. He said the project required only 50 acres of land, and would cost Rs50 million. He said the project would be completed in six months.
Qidwai said the government had suggested alternative land, which the government should consider. Ali Habib, an RRC member, commented that this was like suggesting a school in Karachi to somebody looking to admit a child in a school in Lahore.
On April 3 the commission had decided to ask the LDA if they had any plans to treat wastewater as part of the RRUDP. On March 1, 2013, the Green Bench of the LHC comprising Justice Mansoor Ali Shah had formed the River Ravi Commission on a petition by Kamil Khan Mumtaz. The commission had recommended treatment of waste water using the constructed wetland option.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2014.
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