Sunday May 29, 2022

Slow work on Gulab Devi underpass causes traffic jams, increases pollution

By Ali Raza
December 07, 2021

LAHORE: Slow work on Gulab Devi underpass is causing traffic jams on adjacent roads and these traffic jams are increasing pollution in the City already in a grip of smog.

The underpass has been under-construction for the past many weeks due to which traffic on Ferozpur Road was diverted to Walton Road, Garden Town Road and other adjacent roads. This diversion is slowing down traffic on already signal-free corridor of Ferozpur Road.

A source in Traffic Engineering and Planning Agency (Tepa) revealed that vehicular pollution was contributing more than 45 per cent in the present and consistent smog. He said in a recent meeting it was proposed that LDA should be asked to stop all kinds of construction work on its three mega projects.

It is pertinent to mention here that Ferozpur Road was turned into a signal-free corridor during Shehbaz Sharif’s government and at that time LDA claimed that this conversion will help reduce air pollution as frequent traffic jams, which occurred at different signals on Ferozpur Road will not take place. Environmentalists said if Gulab Devi underpass was so necessary then why not it was planned at that time. They questioned that what the city planners will do when after some years this signal free road again starts witnessing traffic jams. They said LDA should prepare a comprehensive master plan of the city keeping in view the yearly increase in the number of vehicles. They claimed that LDA’s vision of development was limited to future planning of around four to five years.

Mome Saleem, an environmentalist, while talking to The News said for the past several years Lahore was turned into a city of concrete and majority of EIAs issued to mega projects didn’t contain any mitigation plan to control pollution during construction phase. She said majority of Lahore’s agricultural land was either converted into roads or into housing societies. This has reduced food basket of the City and instead of thinking about the gravity of the situation, the City planners continued to introduce more projects on existing infrastructure. “There is a dire need of a mass transit system. Our present road system is designed for cars only,” she said, adding the concept of converting a city road into a signal free corridor has failed worldwide.

Mome Saleem said that the Punjab government should make a clear land use policy to stop the ongoing conversion of agricultural land into commercial, industrial or residential segments. Specifically talking about Lahore, she said the city needed an efficient public transport system or a mass transit system, which is one of the most effective ways to bring down air pollution. On the other hand, LDA’s DG Ahmed Aziz Tarar paid a surprise visit to Gulab Devi underpass and viewed pace and quality of works. Giving instructions for early completion of the project, the DG said Gulab Devi underpass should be completed ahead of schedule. This mega project is very important for traffic flow on Ferozepur Road. Completion of this underpass will solve traffic problems on Ferozepur Road. Officers concerned briefed the DG on the ongoing work and said the underpass would be completed at the earliest. When contacted, EPD secretary said so far no notice was sent to LDA to stop the construction work of all three mega projects.