(originally posted on Daily Times)
BY Faizan Ali Warraich
LAHORE: Participants of a rally organised by Lahore Bachao Tehreek on Sunday protested against the havoc wreaked on Lahore’s environment by the Punjab government-led development projects.
They urged the government to provide basic facilities to citizens instead of wasting money on useless projects.
Lahore Conservation Society Convener Imrana Tiwana while addressing the rally said the Punjab government in the name of development projects was just wasting the public money. She said the presence of a huge number of citizens in the rally showed that Lahorites were really concerned about their city. She said these skyscrapers, flyovers and underpasses were being built at the cost of cutting of ancient trees in the city which would not be accepted under any circumstances.
She said that Lahore’s environment was being polluted by the Punjab government’s ‘misguided’ and ‘incorrect’ projects – building skyscrapers, roads, flyovers, and underpasses – without proper city, town planning on the part of the government. The city’s environment would choke and people not be able to even breathe due to these ill-conceived project of the provincial government, she added.
Tiwana said that the public interest projects should be launched in the city. She said that 93 percent people had no access to transportation facility and flyovers and underpasses were only being built for the elite. She urged the government to focus on better transport facility for the masses. She added that what the city people actually require is thousands of new buses but no one in the government is listening. The government is busy in its so-called development projects through spending the budget of Punjab’s 36 districts solely in Lahore. She said, “Being an urbanist and environmentalist I can say that city planning is a complete science.” Other speakers highlighted the importance of footpaths which were in sheer decline due to the development projects. They urged the government to build footpaths for the people who even do not have nay kind of transportation facility. Only a visionary and coherent strategy can save Lahore from the havoc inflicted by the provincial government’s poorly conceived development projects.
The enthusiastic participants of the protest rally came with posters, placards inscribed with ‘Save Lahore’. They chanted slogans against the Punjab government’s ongoing ‘development projects’ and criticised government’s lack of interest towards highly important issues including healthcare, building schools, supply of clean water to all citizens, improper sanitation facilities and transforming slums in the city into decent living localities. A large number of people including architect Kamil Khan Mumtaz, prominent furniture designer Ghazala Rahman, architects Nayyar Ali Dada and Raza Ali Dada, environmentalist Dr Munir of LSE, distinguished painter Dr Ijaz Anwer, Farhad Humayun of ‘overload band’, TV actress Simi Raheel, IA Rehman, Faryal Gohar, Tanveer Ahmed, Shahzad Hameed and Naeem Bajwa, students, children, youth, victims of the developments projects whose houses were demolished, non-governmental organisations, universities’ students, human rights activists, senior citizens and National College of Arts students, participated in the protest rally organised by Lahore Conservation Society. Lahore Conservation Society or Lahore Bahaao Tehreek is an apolitical civil society organisation active for saving the environment of Lahore.
Senior politician and prominent columnist Ayaz Amir while talking to Daily Times said that the presence of a large number of people at the rally shows that Lahorites are actually against the useless development projects of the Punjab government. He termed these so-called projects a sheer wastage of public money and time. He said the budgets of Punjab’s other districts budget were being shifted to Lahore to fund these useless projects catering to the interests of the elite while ignoring the majority of the people living in the city.
Ghazala Rahman, prominent furniture designer, said on the occasion that Lahore is getting polluted more and more and is already at number 10 among world’s most polluted cities. She said, “We need to save our environment by planting more and more tress and need to halt government’s cutting of the old tress in the city in the name of so-called development projects. She said trees are a symbol of life and must be protected at any cost.