LAHORE: Following his commitment to complete the Lahore Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) Project, the Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday unveiled the first set of its bogies in Lahore.
According to government officials, following the rapid growth in population, a suggestion was proposed regarding a network of mass transit system in the city, to provide the best transportation facilities to the dwellers. “This very long-term project was proposed after keeping in view all the possible hurdles, after which, the government planned to execute the four different projects,” officials stated, and added that currently, the city’s population has mounted up to 10 million and around 7 million people need to travel daily for different purposes; a great number of private vehicles has also surfaced on the roads. The OLMT is an effort to ease the pressures on urban travelling in Lahore.
The proposed site for the project is Ali Town to Dera Gujran along the GT Road to the Railway Station, across the city centre via Lakshmi Chowk, McLeod Road and Lake Road to Chauburji, before heading southwest along the Multan Road and Raiwind Road.
According to officials, the first of the four projects of the mass transit system network, Green Line, had been completed in 2013. Officials say that the on-going OLMT project was executed after proper research and it will be completed soon in order to accommodate a large number of commuters.
This billion-dollar mega project was launched in 2014 and executed in 2015 in collaboration with Chinese companies. The 27.1 KM long project comprises of 25.4 KM elevated and 1.7 KM underground track with train station. Officials stated that the train has the capacity to carry 1,000 people, out of which 200 can be seated while 800 can commute while standing. The capacity will be increased to 500,000 passengers by 2025.
The train which run on electricity and will provide important links between areas slated for new development and the major employment and education centres concentrated in the city nucleus and along the route. This route comprises the localities including new housing societies Raiwind Road, Multan Road, Sabzazar, Allama Iqbal Town, Samanabad, Chuburji, McLeod Road, Lakshmi Chowk, Nicolson Road and other areas where thousands of commuters would be facilitated daily.
Officials claim that the project was designed by acquiring the bare minimum of land. It was also claimed that “the affectees had been given handsome compensation. These affectees were present at Bengali Building, Mahraja Building, Geeta Bhawan, Institute of Disadvantaged Children (school near Jain Mandir), Postal Flats, Parachute Colony near Railway Station, Lahore Khas Residential area (Kapoor Thalla House, Katch lake Road, Jain Mandir, Edward Road etc) and Qazal Bash Trust Properties. To compensate the affectees, government had allocated a large amount of around 20 billion rupees.”
Government claims to use modern technology for the construction of this ongoing project, arguing that it is the first ever project in the history of Pakistan where U-tub gridders have been introduced, while use of German steam curing technology in precast of these structures has further facilitated speedy production of these structures.
As per government documents, the train will run on a speed of 80 KM/hour and will cover 27.1KM distance in 45 minutes, while the present time for this distance is 2 to 2.5 hours.
It is pertinent to mention here that soon after the project started in October 2015, a score of petitions were filed in court, while civil society and environmentalists showed serious concerns about the mega project. Subsequently, the Lahore High Court had ordered to stop the civil works near 11 historical sites along the route. Later, Punjab government challenged the Lahore High Court verdict in Supreme Court where the judgment is reserved for announcement.
However, government rejects the allegations of critics of this project. CM on Sunday, criticising these allegations, stated that a limited group of privileged people are against the development and prosperity of the public.