Or­ange Line project: An­other view

The Pak Banker - - NATIONAL - Wajeeha Ah­mad

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.

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