LAHORE – Despite several announcements since 2001, the MM Alam road remodelling project has not seen much progress and the construction costs have continued to climb from Rs 99 million to Rs 350 million.
Early in July 2012, the Lahore Development Authority had announced that the remodelling project would be launched with the intention of being completed within three months.
FORMER GRANDEUR: MM Alam Road, named after a retired Air Force commander who had received medal of honour Sitara-e-Jurrat for his services to the country, is in a rundown condition with cracked surfaces and broken pavements. Interestingly, this road is also a commercial hub, with dozens of shops, schools and restaurants lining the road. It runs between Main Market to Firdous Market in Gulberg. An expensive alternative to Food Street Gawalmandi, MM Alam road plays host to many popular fast food restaurants.
DEADLOCK WITH LHC : An Lahore Development Authority official recently told Pakistan Today that while the project had suffered many problems, the biggest hurdle in the completion of this project are technical and legal constraints. He said that the mega-project entailed a digital library, gymnasium, bowling alley, parking plaza, echo-friendly Park and cricket ground at the cost of Rs 1181.30 in place of multi-million IMAX theatre and shopping Mall on the MM Alam road.
The Lahore High Court (LHC) had granted permission to Punjab government to use 18 percent land of the public park for the purpose of constructing a parking lot, library and bowling alley. LHC, however, retained the rest of the land as public property to be used as a park. Punjab government, on the other hand, intends to use the entire park for the project. This has lead to a deadlock between the government and the LCH, leaving the remodelling project at a standstill.
LDA Chief Engineer Israr Saeed told Pakistan Today that court decision did not fulfil the demands of government and this deadlock has caused problems with other projects too. For example, the plan of establishing a Central Business District has been put on hold because the development plan of Doongi ground has been halted.TECHNICAL PROBLEMS: However, it is not just the deadlock with the courts that is hindering the project. A City District Government of Lahore (CDGL) official blamed insufficient funds availability as leading cause, saying remodelling work could not proceed since the government was seemed to run out of funds very fast.
It must be mentioned here that LDA Chief Engineer Asrar Saeed stated that the estimated cost of this project now stood at Rs 350 millions, causing lack of proper funding to be another barrier in the completion of this much-needed development project.
Replacing sewerage and drainage system with old pipes also hindered the development work. Shifting of services including telephone lines and electric wires remains in a woeful condition.
Former WASA managing director Javed Iqbal said that MM Alam remodelling project should have resumed after WASA completed the set-up of an area drainage scheme worth Rs 280 million in April last year.