The Punjab government is likely to exclude the area comprising settlements (residential, industrial, commercial etc) from the total area of the Phase-I of the Urban Development of Ravi Project as a map showing priority areas has almost been finalised .
By Khalid Hasnain
“It has been decided in principle that the areas having residential, commercial, industrial settlements (houses, factories, shops, built-up areas etc) will not be acquired.
In this regard, the government is likely to announce it formally in writing to satisfy those protesting over this issue,” an official source told Dawn seeking anonymity.
According to the map, the total area of the project’s Phase-I comprises 22,705 acres that includes 9,515 acres situated on the left bank of the river,7,034 on its right bank, 6,156 acres at the river channel, including an island spread over 2,200 acres and the settlements spreading over 612 acres. However, without settlement areas, the total area falling under Phase-I comprises 22,093 acres.
The Phase-I priority area, according to the map, will have a central business district to be developed on the island area of 2,212 acres, which has been named as Zone-12.
The priority area (on the left bank) will have development of Zone-2 (residential), Zone-11 (residential and mid-rise), Zone 13 (mixed-use residential), Zone-12A (river) and Zone-15 (retail mixed use).
Similarly, the river’s right bank will have Zone-3 (residential) and Zone-4 (residential). Various pockets of the areas have been allocated for developing green areas, including forests.
According to the source, the new city is meant to save present Lahore which is witnessing unplanned urban growth.
“None of the settled houses or industrial units are being acquired. However, those living right into the flood plain of the river have to be secured with limited dislocation,” he explained.
He said the agriculture areas were also being taken care of in the new city’s development plan.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Rs5 trillion Ravi River Urban Development Project says there is no plan to forcibly acquire land owned by private owners and no one has been given any notice in this regard.
“We are not making any attempt to forcibly acquire the land from private owners. This project will consist of three phases. The first phase consists of 44,000 kanals for which no one is neither displaced nor their land is being acquired forcibly. That is why no notice has been given to anyone in this regard,” project’s spokesman S.M Imran told journalists at a press conference.
Flanked by Special Assistant to CM Firdous Ashiq Awan and Board of Revenue Senior Member Babar Hayat Tarar, he dispelled the impression, stating only eight cases have been filed in the courts so far by the developers of some illegal housing schemes in the Ravi Project area.
“There is no complaint lodged by any citizen in this regard,” he added.
He termed the project the most important flagship project of the PTI government on which meetings were regularly held by PM Imran Khan.
“Many people have even raised structures/houses within the bed of the river. Their life will be in danger in case the floodwater is released by India,” he said.
Mr Imran said the project team would first start construction of 28-foot high walls on both sides by the river so as to save huge populations.
“Besides development of a lake, seven water treatment plants will also be established in the area,” he said.
FIRDOUS: Speaking at a press conference earlier, Special Assistant to CM on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan blamed the media for `misleading’ people on the project.
She claimed that the mega project of Rs28bn investment would offer jobs to about 1.2m people to construct 1.8m residential units besides the sports city, knowledge city, health city and commercial city.
She said 46kms long lake running along the project would not only help recharge the water table for entire Lahore but also serve as echo friendly because it would have six million trees planted.
Originally published at Dawn