If Lahore is to avoid smog this year, it must start working towards that
nly a couple of months from now, smog will have returned to Lahore and posed serious public health hazards all over again, unless solid and concerted efforts are made by the relevant government departments to keep it under control.
The one way to deal with it is to develop and upgrade other cities in the region.
Vehicular emissions are among the biggest environmental threats the city is currently faced with, and the city planners have failed to eliminate/ control this. The main reason for poor air quality in pollution pockets is the concentration of motor vehicles which in turn is thanks to encroachments, a lack of proper parking spaces and the failure of the mass transit system.
Early this year, Lahore High Court (LHC) directed the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) and other concerned departments to turn nine roads of the city into model roads. The LDA, under the supervision of the Lahore Division commissioner, carried out several anti-encroachment operations on the main roads of the city, to no avail as the encroachments would reappear as soon as the teams of government departments left the scene.
In order to ease the flow of traffic, the LDA has adopted a strategy wherein roads will be expanded and flyovers and underpasses will be built. Currently, two projects — Samanabad Morr underpass and the expansion of Lahore Bridge on Ferozpur Road — are in the works. Two more projects (the Shahdara multilevel project, and Akbar Chowk flyover and underpass) will be started soon.
Earlier, LDA’s engineers had introduced a novel idea of signal-free corridors after which Ferozpur Road, Jail Road and some other roads were made signal-free. But, after a decade, these roads are facing the same issues.
The more we concrete the city, the more we lose green areas such as agricultural land and orchards where fruit trees and vegetables are grown.
A senior Town Planner working for the LDA tells TNS on condition of anonymity that instead of building new roads, flyovers and underpasses, the government should consider developing small towns and cities close to Lahore. “This will stop the urban migration and create job opportunities for the people who come to the city in search of a better life,” he says, adding that during the construction stage of mega projects, noise and dust problems affects the health of the locals besides affecting the movement of the citizens. The more we concrete the city, the more we lose green areas such as the agricultural land and the orchards where fruit trees and vegetables are grown.
LDA Director General Muhammad Ali Randhawa says that the administration is trying to clear the nine model roads of all encroachments. “Notices have been served to those who didn’t provide parking spaces, and those who used the designated parking areas for other purposes.”
The commissioner says that a mechanism has been introduced in Lahore for geo-tagging each and every tree in the city. “All new plantation will be recorded and monitored through an advanced IT system,” he says.
He also speaks of LDA’s plans to preserve green areas and develop rooftop gardens, move towards vertical expansion, and employ heat sinks, all of which will help to keep the smog in check.
The writer is a senior reporter at The News