LAHORE - As they say there is no gain without pain or in other words you cannot make an omelet without breaking the egg. Same is the case with the city’s most ambitious project – Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT).
After the work was stopped at 11 points on court orders now it has started again. The development work is in full swing at GPO Chowk, Nabha Road and the land leading up to the Jain Mandir including structures like Mahrajah Building and Kapurthala House, which are now not there now. The number of houses and buildings including have been completely or partially demolished to pave way for the project. People of the area are, however, not angry about it. They want the project to complete as soon as possible. Rather one can say they want to get it done and gone. Their pain for the moment will give the city most modern transport system.
One can walk on the Nabha Road beside the Supreme Court Registry Building. Long green sheets cover the historical buildings like GPO, St Andrews Church and Mauj Darya. The GPO building is being strengthened with reinforcements (iron roads) to withstand the pressure of development work. The main dome of the General Post Office built in 1887. The British era-architect was designed by Sir Ganga Ram.
On Tuesday late afternoon the courtyard and walls near the tomb of Mauj Darya were being demolished. The whole area nearby has almost been leveled for the project. The development work was underway within 200 feet from St Andrew's Church boundary wall and same case is with General Post Office. The question arises here are green sheets enough to save it from the environmental effects of OLMT construction work? After Supreme Court of Pakistan gave go ahead to Punjab Government, authorities are working to complete the Rs165 billion Orange Line project. The court had also set 31 conditions to carry out construction work near the historical sites.
Ranjha, 72, was sitting in front of his house located near Hazrat Baba Mauj Darya shrine. “Three marla area of my house came within the limits of project. I was paid for only two marlas at the rate of Rs 2.5 million per marla. We just hope this project is completed as soon as possible so that we can carry on with our lives normally as we used to in the past,” he said.
Retired teacher Mussarat Inayat, who also lives in the vicinity, said they wash the whole house at least twice a day due to dust that comes due to digging and drilling. “The children in the house had throat infection so many times since this project started as there is so much dust coming in. At night it becomes difficult to sleep due to noise of machines at work and sometimes we feel the vibration as well. We however pray that the project be completed in time. It is a step forward and must be appreciated. You have to sacrifice to achieve some goals,” said.
Centuries old shrine of Hazrat Shah Hussain Bokhari (Baba Moj Darya) will not be in the way of train. But the train will pass very near it. Similar is the case with St Andrew’s Church and GPO. The mosque adjacent to the shrine has been demolished. A makeshift comfortable mosque has been built nearby.
“We need this construction work soon to be completed as we cannot bear the dust. I had a whole set up of selling the fruit. My business is now reduced to selling papaya on this small table. They are not allowing vending carts as they think they will create traffic jams,” said Jamal Ahmed who has occupied part of foot path to do his business near AG Office where there used to be scores of fruit sellers whose number has fallen to not more than a dozen.
Worst traffic jams can be witnessed on all the roads in the area especially during rush hours. OLMT project was launched in May 2014 and it spans 27.1 kilometres -- from Ali Town to Dera Gujjran.