The residents received 24-hour deadline from the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) to vacate their houses causing agitation amongst the protesters who burnt tyres, blocked the roads and removed the barriers put in place for the OMT project. The protesters claimed that they were being thrashed out of their homes without any compensation or alternate arrangements.
The protest caused a severe traffic blockade on Multan Road, Chowk Yateem Khana and the adjoining areas for at least four hours and vehicles were seen piling up. Abruptly, the disorder stretched to adjoining areas as hundreds of vehicles finding no way moved onto the key roads.
The protesting residents said that the mismanagement in construction of the multi- billion project has turned their lives into hell. Whilst the contactors have not undertaken any plan to control the pollution and disorderly traffic prior to the start of construction, the protesters have also demonstrated against noise and dust pollution and traffic problems they face on daily basis due to the construction project of OMT.
However, security personnel tried to keep the mob at bay but they failed as the natives were not willing to negotiate.
The traffic police officers dispersed the Lahoris on a promise of forming a committee to look into the matter.
Subsequently, a six-member committee has been constituted to review the problems being faced by the affectees but the irked protesters remain determined to protest again if the committee failed to resolve the issue.
The LDA officials on Wednesday released a press statement that disbursement of payment will start from the coming Friday for the properties intersecting with OMT project route. LDA spokesman said they have established three camps at Jain Mandir, Engineering University and Thokar Niaz Baig from where people can get payment of their properties after two days. The spokesman said that those who didn’t have any proof of ownership of properties can also bring relevant documents, which shows their occupancy. After verification they will also be given payment as per the announced rates and schedule.
Earlier today, the United Nations (UN) has raised objection over demolition of historical buildings to make way for OMT Project of the Punjab government. The UN has expressed concern over the possible distortion of view of two major monuments Chauburji and Shalimar Gardens and wipe out of as much as 25 other buildings in Lahore by the project. “The preservation of these historical buildings is a necessity,” the UN observed.
UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights Karima Bennoune, in a press release issued on Friday by the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, said government’s forced eviction of residents from their houses is completely unjustified as it does not have a resettlement plan.
“The project will not only destroy physical sites but the ways of life that have been developed there, that people cherish and through which they express their dignity and identity,” she said.
According to sources, the OMT project will cost $1.6 billion and will be completed within 27 months. The train route will be 27.1 kilometer long, spread from Ali Town to Dera Gojran. The present government has signed a project with Chairman of the Chinese National Development Reforms Commission regarding construction of the Orange Line Train in Lahore
The OMT project has been under constant criticism and different political parties have expressed their disapproval of the project. The former CM Punjab, Chaudhry Pervez Elahi termed Orange Metro Line Project bigger than Nandipur Power Project for making dollars and labeled it as an anti-employment and anti-environment project.