LAHORE: Environment activists have turned down as inadequate remedies proposed for air pollution during the construction of the Orange Line Metro Train in the environment impact assessment (EIA) report of the project.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Ali Amjad of the Lahore Bachao Teheek says the report lacks mention of increased particulate matter along the route during construction of the track. He says construction work and traffic congestion will contribute to an increase in particulate matter, contributing to air pollution. He says the report proposes use of polythene curtains or fences at the construction site to prevent air pollution. However, he says such measures are incapable of checking particulate matter.
He says this problem will be particularly acute in densely populated areas like Lakshmi Chowk and the surroundings of the Shalamar Gardens.
Amjad, a resident of a neighbourhood near Shalamar Gardens, says the government had recently undertaken construction work in the area to establish a signal-free corridor for vehicular traffic. He says it will now dig up the road again to lay the track for the Orange Line train. “This reflects poor planning,” he adds.
Nasim ur Rehman Shah, Deputy Director at the Environment Protection Department, says the department is consulting experts to ensure that the project is implemented in an environment-friendly manner. He says a public hearing on the EIA is scheduled for June 30 (today).
The EIA report states that 620 trees along the route will need to be cut for the construction of the track. It says that the Punjab Metro Bus Authority (PMA) and the Parks and Horticultural Authority (PHA) will plant 6,200 trees as a replacement. It says plants will be selected in view of their ability to absorb carbon emissions.
The report mentions contamination of ground water, impact on soil, and noise and air pollution as issues that can arise during the construction of the track. It proposes to set up an environment committee to receive and redress grievances of residents of areas in the vicinity of the construction site.
The Orange Line train will run on a 26.23 km long track. The major portion of the track will be elevated (24.38 km). A 1.15 km portion of the track will be underground. The average distance between stations is 1.02 km – maximum distance is 1.54 km (between Sultanpura and City Railway Station) and the minimum 0.59 km (between City Centre to Anarkali). The route will begin at Dera Gujran in the north. It will pass GT Road, City Railway Station, Lakshami Chowk, McLoed Road, Lake Road, Chauburji before heading southwest. It will run parallel to the Multan Road and pass Gulshan-i-Ravi, Samanabad, Sabzazar, Wahdat Colony and Hanjerwal. From Thokar Niaz Beg, the track will turn towards Raiwind Road where it will at Ali Town.
The construction will be completed in 27 months.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2015.