If the corruption is proven then the nation can hold me accountable." Lashing out at Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, he said that the party has done nothing for the people in KP.People who speak about 'tabdeeli' [change], are the ones who did nothing to provide any relief to the people. There is no metro bus or any development happening, he claimed, adding that when dengue outbreak hit Peshawar, PTI Cheif Imran Khan chose to hide in the mountains.
Speaking about the benefits of the project, he said it will make conveyance easy for everyone. "This is the best inter-city transport project," he added. Before the event, he sent messages on social media lauding the project. Sharif also said that the project is meant to make the underprivileged feel that “they have equal rights on the state resources as their rich counterparts… it aims to create equality.”
The management has finalised the arrangements for the event. The 27 trains are likely to cover the distance as per the route built up until December 25 — when the project is set to be launched. A single train has the capacity to carry 1,000 people, out of which 200 can be seated while 800 can commute while standing.The project has also been included in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, it was decided in the Economic Coordination Committee meeting held in January.
Costing a whopping $1.6 billion, the 27-kilometres rail line was set to be up and running by mid-2017 but got embroiled in a legal battle in the Lahore High Court which ordered a stay on several sites as the development was trampling over heritage sites in Lahore.
The Punjab government’s most ambitious but divisive project, Lahore’s Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT), is now 77 percent complete, even as Pakistan’s top court deliberates on its future.
Launched in May 2014 by Punjab’s chief minister, in collaboration with a Chinese company, the OLMT will be the country’s first metro line. Construction for it began rapidly in 2015 and was personally supervised by Shehbaz Sharif, Punjab’s chief minister and the prime minister’s younger brother. Costing a whopping $1.6 billion the 27-kilometers rail line was slated to be up and running by mid-2017, until it stumbled into legal troubles.
A petition challenging its route landed up in the Lahore High Court, after the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) expressed serious concern about the rail tracks damaging 11 historical monuments in Lahore, including the Shalimar Gardens, Gulabi Bagh Gateway, Chauburji, Zebunnisa’s Tomb, Lakshmi Building and the General Post Office. These heritage sites are protected under the Punjab Special Premises (Preservation) Ordinance, 1985 and Antiquity Act, 1975.Reprimanding the government for its poor planning and hastily prepared evaluation reports, the court stayed the construction within 200 feet of the sites.
But the Punjab government was undeterred. Not to back down it quickly sought out the Supreme Court. In April, the apex court too concluded the case and reserved its ruling.
While the verdict is still awaited, construction work on the project is powering through nonetheless. Compartments for the trains have already been dispatched from China and are to arrive in Pakistan next month. Government officials insist that there is no need to slow down the pace. They are confident that the court’s verdict will be in their favor. “We have dealt with the concerns regarding the historical sites,” says Khawaja Ahmad Hassan, chairman of the OLMT steering committee, “The trains will start operating by December.”For now, the areas where construction has been left unattended are the 11 colonial and Mughal era historical sites. “The train tracks are en route from China and will be laid down as soon as the court gives us a go ahead,” Hassan tells Geo.tv. “Once we get the approval, work on the stagnant areas will be completed rapidly in day and night shifts.”The metro train is expected to run on electricity and to transport up to 250,000 passengers a day. The capacity will be increased to 500,000 passengers by 2025.
Lahore is a city of over 11 million people, according to unofficial tallies. Calls for an efficient and robust public transport system have only grown louder over the years. But for some citizens, the urban development project, while a welcome initiative, has come at a cost. Public ire has increased as major arteries and thoroughfares of the city are dug up to fast track the construction, resulting in traffic congestion. Then there are small business owners who say they have to bear financial losses due to the disruption and the gutted out roads. The businessmen Geo.tv spoke to say they have yet to receive any word from the government about being compensated.
Big projects like the Orange Metro Train tend to impact how urban residents vote in the national polls. With the court verdict still a mystery, it remains to be seen whether the metro train will be ready to roar through before the upcoming elections.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Sunday inaugurated the first set of bogies that recently arrived from China to be used in Lahore's Orange-Line Metro project, RadioPakistan reported.Speaking during a ceremony marked to celebrate the arrival of Orange-Line Metro, Sharif said the project upon its completion will provide modern, safe, swift and affordable transport facilities to the commuters.
Nearly 0.25 million commuters will travel via Orange Line train daily in the provincial metropolis, he added.
Shahbaz Sharif inaugurates the Lahore Orange Line Metro Train at Dera Gujran. —Online
Also read: Two officers held for corruption in Orange Line project
The chief minister said that a distance of 27 kilometres from Darogawala to Thokar Niaz Baig will be covered in just 45 minutes.
Sharif pointed out that despite conspiracies being hatched against the development projects, the journey of progress and prosperity will continue successfully.
The scope of civil works on the Orange Line project involves the construction of a 27.1-kilometre metro train corridor, including 25.4km of elevated U-shaped viaducts and 1.72km underground sections, 24 elevated and two underground stations, depots, stabling yards, etc. Nearly 0.25 million commuters will travel via Orange Line train daily. —Online
The train, with five coaches, an energy-saving air-conditioning system and systems configured to handle unstable voltage, has been produced by CRRC Zhuzhou Locomotive Co, Ltd, China.
As for the financing of the Orange-Line Metro project is concerned, a major chunk, Rs150 billion of the Rs165 billion project, will be provided by the Chinese government to Punjab under a soft-loan agreement, outside the financial realm of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
In May 2016, the first tranche of the payment totalling around Rs33 billion was released by The Exim Bank of China.
Earlier in April, the Supreme Court was expected to deliver a decisive verdict on a petition, filed by Kamil Khan Mumtaz, regarding damage caused to heritage sites due to the construction of the Orange-Line train.
However, the SC reserved its judgement and asked the Punjab government to file a comprehensive report to the court, detailing measures it would take to address the petitioner's and civil society's concerns over the matter.