Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that the “tipping point” has come to take the country forward as he inaugurated a multibillion-rupees development project in Lahore on Friday.
Addressing the inauguration ceremony of River Ravi Urban Development Authority project here, the premier said first two years of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government were very difficult, saying that his government protected the country from going default on debts.
“In the past, billions of rupees were spent on projects like Orange Line and Metro Bus which do not create wealth rather they are dependent on subsidies,” said Imran. He said the Ravi project worth Rs5 trillion will create wealth and massive employment opportunities.
“This project is essential for the survival of Lahore,” he said, adding that vertical expansion of the cities can resolve the growing urban challenges including exploding population and climate change.
The project was originally envisioned in 2013 by the Urban Unit, an urban sector planning arm of the provincial government, which is spread over 44,817 acres and will set a new centre of the city.
It will have 14 zones, including residential, commercial, mix-use zones, medical city, forest reserve and central business district. The project is located in the districts of Lahore and Sheikhupura, run along the Ravi River in a northeast-southwest direction.
The prime minister also cautioned the Punjab government that it would face many challenges while completing this project and advised it not to give up come what may. “This project is very complicated or else it would have been built by now as it was started in 2004.”
“The rate at which our population is growing, if we are to save Lahore, the river Ravi project is something that is totally unavoidable now,” he said.
PM Imran recalled the former glory days of the provincial capital, where trees would dot the city’s landscape and the water was sweet to drink.
He said that one must have no doubt of the dire need of the project. “Without this, Lahore will see water problems that Karachi faces today.”
The premier said that the pollution levels in Lahore are “off the charts, way beyond what adversely affects the health”.
He said with unplanned settlements springing up everywhere, it has become necessary to make Lahore a modern city with all the modern amenities.
“Modern cities grow vertically, not horizontally, and it is then easier for the government to take care of their needs like water and sewerage.” The premier then went on to detail the government’s plans for the river. He said to save the river, extra water will be released into it and more barrages created. “And the sewerage that is coming into the river will be treated and clean water released back,” he said.