Lahore, once known as the ‘City of Gardens’ is a metropolitan with a burgeoning population and a bustling economy, home to few of world’s most popular historic sites. Recent developments have led to many large-scale projects that have defaced the stunning scenery of this city and threatened to erase its heritage. The most controversial is the Orange Line Metro Train Project (OLMTP).
The OLMTP is responsible for cutting down of 620 grown-up trees on its long route from Dera Gujran to Ali Town, the species cut down are not limited to one kind but include up to 15 classes. With Climate Change and Global Warming at large, it’s crucial for Pakistan to conserve as many species as possible if it is to cut down its greenhouse gas emissions and meet the requirements of The Paris Agreement. Trees are a sight for sore eyes and are responsible for keeping the environment generally pleasant and help in reducing the overall temperature.
This project is detrimental to health of the workers as well as residents. Irritant particles abundant within the area have led to increase in respiratory diseases. Asthma patients find it difficult to cope with the high levels of dust that has now permanently formed a suspension over the Baghbanpura area. It has also given birth to acute respiratory diseases such as Chronic Bronchitis with perpetual wheezing. In geriatric cases severe coughing has led to expulsion of blood from the throat.
If that is not enough for the Punjab government to change its mind, the OLMTP has also been found guilty of violations at five of the 11 heritage sites where its construction had been stopped. The Shalimar Gardens, a popular tourist attraction, have been eclipsed by the towering pillars of the overhead trail. The Gardens have seen a decline in the amount of tourists. Huge clouds of dust are seen billowing up from the developing area and the use of heavy machinery, a major source of noise pollution, has interfered the picturesque and quaint environment of the park. The widespread use of cement is responsible for the absorption of heat up to 2.04%. The harmful effects of this project are also a threat to culture, as the government was to knock down the Chauburji site.
The burgeoning population of this city is root of the problem. If birth rates continue to skyrocket, the people of Lahore will continue to face such dilemmas. Instead, we need short-term solutions: the current bus system should be developed with a “green bus scheme”; a possibility of underground metro train should be explored; work at Baghbanpura terminal should be suspended; the OLMTP should focus more on ground transport so that towering pillars should not lead to an increase in visual pollution; mass tree plantation programmes should be held in collaboration with the Ministry of Forests and prominent NGOs; a park restoration process should follow through to restore Lahore to its former glory. If we are to save this beautiful city, it’s imperative for us to act now.