Tree felling for Kalma Chowk underpass

LAHORE, Nov 29: The Traffic Engineering and Planning Agency (Tepa) started on Thursday felling of trees in order to initiate digging work for the construction of Kalma Chowk underpass.

Work was launched at a stretch of around 200 to 300 metres on city’s beautiful 3-km greenbelt situated in the middle of Gulberg’s main boulevard (from Kalma Chowk to Siddique Trade Centre).

As the portion was required for about 800-metre long underpass, the officials have already dismantled the entire greenbelts in centre and right/left of the road, leading to Kalma Chowk from Barkat Market intersection.

“It is not the way to gradually end the natural beauty of the city in the name of launching development projects. It is not a good planning as the government should launch the projects without damaging landscape of the city,” Prof Ejaz Anwar, an expert on urban issues, said while talking to Dawn.Criticising the Punjab rulers, he said the city was currently reflecting a scene similar to the devastation in Europe in the wake of World War-II.

“I just ask them as to why they don’t think even about the birds that have their nests at trees and worship Almighty Allah there.

The rulers have nothing to do with this, as they are widening roads, making underpasses or starting Metro Bus like projects etc by cutting trees, depriving birds of their homes and food and the people from shadow and the main source of oxygen,” he lamented.

He said the rulers and their advisers should also know well about rainwater being consumed in bulk by the green areas that was not only giving a new life to trees and soil but also saving citizens from floods etc. “If we gradually remove green areas we will also lose beautiful environment and oxygen for all.”

Talking to Dawn, TEPA Chief Engineer Saeed Akhtar said trees were being uprooted in the public interest. “Though I don’t know how many trees are being cut or uprooted, I assure the people of Lahore that we would plant more trees in future.”

Asked if TEPA could have started constructing Kalma Chowk underpass without cutting trees in presence of the already wide road (from Centre Point Gulberg to Kalma Chowk), Mr Akhtar said it was mandatory to remove the particular stretch of the greenbelt as per design of the project. “There was no way except to do this.”

He said the project design had also been modified to add another lane. Now there would be a four-lane underpass on the road leading to Kalma Chowk from Barkat Market. And the road heading to Kalma Chowk from Centre Point or Liberty roundabout would have a three-lane underpass. He said keeping in view this amendment in the design the revised cost of the project would now be Rs1,500 million (Rs1.5 billion). And it would be completed within 60 days, most probably by the end of January, 2013.

He said the construction of underpass wouldn’t cause any delay in the MBS project on Ferozepur Road.