Orange Line project: Another view
Acivil society is mainly comprised of groups or organizations working in the interest of the citizens but operating outside the ambit of the government. Organizations and institutions that make up civil society include labor unions, non-profit organizations, churches, and other service agencies that provide an important service to society but generally ask for very little in return. This is something I have been reading in books.
The active role of civil society is important in determining the quality of public service to the people. In trying to champion their agendas, they at times tend cross the line. This may have to do with the fact that they are manned by people belonging to priv- ilege sections of society. Hence their understanding of what common people go through may be limited.
Today I intend to write as a common citizen. I write on behalf of common people like me who have to go through ignominy of daily travels in cramped and crowded and often stinky buses. Of late you have taken a strong exception to the under-construction Lahore Orange Line Train project. While you have every right to express your opinion, I think it is my duty to bring to your notice the other side of the story.
The 27-kilometer long track of Orange Line Metro Train is being constructed between Ali Town at Raiwind Roads and Dera Gujran at G.T.Road. Passing through the busy and densely populated areas of the provincial capital and the economic hub of Punjab, the Lahore Orange Line Metro Train will be providing a respectable and quick mode of transportation to more than 250000 commuters on daily basis initially, a number which will reach up to 500000 passengers in ten years.
The start-to-end journey will be covered in just 45 minutes which otherwise takes two to three hours to be covered presently. This project would not have been materialized without the dedication of Shehbaz Sharif who visited China many times to discuss the project with Chinese experts. The pros and cons of this project have already been discussed in details. The route of the OLMT has been adopted after carrying out extensive surveys by reputed organizations. The track has been designed in such a manner that minimum land acquisition was required for its construction saving many people from displacement, said Chief Engineer LDA, Asrar Saeed.
There has been hue and cry by the civil society about the route of Orange Line Metro Train. Under the banner of Lahore Bachao Tehreek, you are on a mission on rescuing Lahore and preserving its heritage, as you put it, by blocking the roads and creating difficulties for the citizens. The question arises here: have you ever visited those historical places and monuments themselves? How many times have you been to Shalimar garden yourself?
In order to put facts rights for those who continue to oppose the project on the basis of its alleged damage to heritage, it is important to mention that it was the government of Muhammad Nawaz Sharif that restored Chaubarji in 1990s. Now it has been handed over to the Punjab Archaeology Department and Punjab government has been very generous in providing funds and manpower for the preservation of cultural heritages.
Just in case you missed some very momentous events lately, let me tell you that the efforts aimed at bringing art to public spaces, under the rubric of Beautification of Lahore Framework, has been personally supervised by Shehbaz Sharif. I earnestly believe it is in the process of becoming something truly splendid and culturally refreshing. A few of the leading members of our civil society were involved in taking this agenda forward meaningfully.
The magnificent 'Bird House', inaugurated recently at the Istanbul Chowk, is a manifestation of this positive collaboration. At least six more superbly-designed 'art in public spaces' projects are on the anvil. All of them would depict our rich culture and history in the most aesthetically pleasing manner. Rest assured that government of Punjab is committed to fulfilling its responsibilities for preserving its heritage with utmost sense of duty.