LAHORE: The government should ensure the safety of historical monuments during the construction of the Orange Line Metro Train project, several civil society members said on Saturday.
They were addressing a press conference near Chauburji.
“It is about maintaining the dignity and spirit of Lahore,” said Imrana Tiwana, the Lahore Bachao Tehreek convener.
She said the government should use tunnel technology. “The government should revert to the original plan under which a 7.1 kilometre section falling in densely populated areas was to be underground,” she said.
Hussain Naqi, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan director, said that it was important to realise that the civil society was not opposed to a public transport system. “The government is presenting us as people opposed to development. This is not the case.
The government should use the original plan that provided for an underground track to be laid using tunnel technology from Multan Road to the city railway station,” he said.
He said that underground railway systems were in use for public transport in many cities across the world. “People do not visit Lahore for taking a ride on the metro bus. Most of them come here to visit historical monuments.
The construction of the train is ruining the very heritage sites Lahore is famous for.
The authorities should utilise more funds to renovate these monuments,” he said.
Actor Samia Mumtaz said Lahoris should be proud of the historic monuments. “Their destruction is not necessary for development. [The LDA] is ignoring history,” she said.
Farida Shaheed, the Shirkat Gah executive director, said that the construction for the metro train violated two important international treaties.
“People have a right to protect their lifestyle and cultural rights. Pakistan needs to think carefully about its international commitments,” she said.
Afzal Sahir said that the project had been started in view of the upcoming election. “There is no serious thought for the future involved in the project.
The compensation came after protests,” Sahir said.
“We want to make it very clear that all is not lost yet. However, it will be if this project continues,” said Kamil Khan Mumtaz, the Lahore Conservation Society (LCS) president.
He said that the project had been poorly planned. “It is the result of bad advice being given to the chief minister by Lahore Development Authority officials, who are profiting from the acquisitions,” he said.
He said that tunnel-boring technology was the way forward.
He said that 17 tunnel boring machines were working in New Delhi currently to extend the mass transit system. The LCS maintains that construction of the elevated track for the Orange Train will harm 16 protected heritage monuments, in addition to other historical buildings not listed by the government.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 28th, 2016.