Category Archives: Environment

Saving Lahore…uphill task

A bunch of starry-eyed do-gooders, under the banner of the Lahore Bachao Tehreek, are trying to raise their voice against the further expansion of the Canal Road. Over the years, and under the tender ministrations of chief ministers who for the mischief they have caused in the name of development deserve a spell in some Stalinist re-education centre, the Canal road has been double-widened, then triple-widened and tunnelled under.

Trees have been cut – Pakistani officialdom and Pakistanis generally nursing some kind of a primeval grudge against trees…if they see one standing honour is not satisfied unless it is pulled down – and an iron railing has been put up, of no use whatsoever and on the wrong side of the footpath. The visionary behind this planning deserves a prize.

Yet Punjab officialdom, and for that matter the far-seeing administration of the Khadim-e-Aala – they no longer even smile when this title is used, such being the prevalent sense of humour – are resolved to vandalise the Canal thoroughfare further. They want to ‘improve’ the underpasses and create some U-turns, as if U-turning was not already a national art. If memory serves, a sum of over eight billion rupees is set aside in this year’s provincial budget for this purpose.
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Flood Situation in Punjab: Police rescue 6,630 flood-tossed people

 

A view of houses surrounded by flood water in Rana Town area of Lahore.— Photo by APP

A view of houses surrounded by flood water in Rana Town area of Lahore.— Photo by APP

LAHORE: As many as 7,922 policemen across Punjab have so far evacuated 6,630 flood-hit people, including 29 families of Rahim Yar Khan district, 25 of Mandi Bahauddin and 20 of Chiniot.

According to a handout issued on Sunday, boats, trolleys and various vehicles are being used for relief activities by police teams who also rescued 5,203 cattle along with appurtenance of the affected people.

Similarly, police also provided 3,493 mud bags to the local administration.

In Gujranwala region, up to 3,102 persons and 1,904 cattle have so far been evacuated by police.

Mandi Bahauddin District Police Officer Syed Junaid Arshad himself rescued a three-day-old baby girl by driving a boat in Qadirabad area of the Chenab river.

As many as 2,530 traffic policemen have also been deputed to ensure vehicular movement in the affected areas.

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Photo Story: Rains play havoc with Lahore

Malik Omaid

Pictures after the recent bout of heavy rain.

It rained in Lahore for whole last night. Though it was nostalgic to hear the music of downpour in the dark whole but as the day came, the sad reality started to bite. These are some Photos of Lahore from today morning telling the story how last night heavy rain played havoc to the city.

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Rain2

Newly built Kalma Underpass drowned deep under water.

Rain3

Huge infrastructure built just aside Minar-e- Pakistan but no attention given to sewerage system as usual.

Rain4

Rain5

Rain6

Students going to school in Lahore this morning , too bad they didn’t used metro bus.

Rain7

A good use of rain water is to make it a swimming pool, unhealthy though.

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Newly built infrastructure all drowned just because no attention given to sewerage system.

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Rain10

Rain11 

A wonderful view of “Darya-e-Lahore”.

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A drowned Qadaffi stadium tells the competency of PCB officials.

 

A Green Thought

by Amna Kausar

Amna Kausar is a candidate for the degree of BSc (Hons) majoring in Environmental Science and currently studying in her final semester. She works as a programme officer in a Lahore-based NGO.

My colleague and I were sitting together one day, obviously working, and the topic under discussion was my ‘so-called’ and ‘irrelevant’ passion for achieving ‘Environmental Sustainability’, not just in my own country, but around the globe i.e. a World of Intelligent Fools. It is sad when people like me, who are definitely few in number, come to terms with the fact that not many people possess the competence to envision our vision. They seem staggered and actually horrified at it. And what exactly is our vision? A Greener and Resourceful Planet! Ah, Thank-you, but No Thank-you!

Heading back to what this colleague was trying to say, in his highly ill-informed and juvenile manner, was that why the ignorant and unenlightened individuals of Pakistan (including himself) would not comprehend how important it was to cut off those trees situated at the Lahore Canal Road so that it could be widened for traffic control. For a minute I thought I could just punch him in his face, not because I was sensitive about this Road Widening Project, but because of the supremely ‘casual’ manner he employed in saying ‘Cut off those trees’. I did not visibly do it, so I stopped clicking my computer mouse, and thought of how to go about this important dialogue.

Only recently, I had got myself in a not-so-very hot debate on Face-book with an acquaintance about an article that I had posted on my profile relating to the notorious ‘Lahore Canal Road Widening Project’. Although, the man had solid points to put forth, I have to say how also extraneous they were.

So I got back to my colleague and asked him whether he knew what trees did for us and the Earth. He said: ‘Duh! They provide Oxygen!’ I had to come back with: ‘Oh! And do you breathe in Helium?’ He looked offended but managed to smile. All I could say to him was that it is humbly requested to him to look for the importance of trees on the internet.

This man and many others like him need to be informed that by chopping off those trees along the canal, they will only rob the city of its lungs! This project is worth Rs. 3.5 billion. Please think twice about Pakistan’s current situation. An amount as huge as this to be spent on a mere 8 percent population of Lahore that owns vehicles is certainly ‘not’ something that we can afford. What about the rest of the 92 percent? Should they move to Planet Mars?

A recent course lecture reminds me of a factual account that we, the intelligent fools of the world, are facing the situation of ‘Environment’ against ‘Development’. Sure, go ahead with Development. Just be a little concerned with its definition and proper implementation. It is amazing to know that the government has a good budget to spend on this Road Widening Project. Will it be a crime to think about the 92 percent I mentioned above and develop an efficient Public Transport System for them? I mean, we are a poor nation for sure and we need to do something about it.

Those trees are Lahore’s cultural possessions. We have not got much left in our pockets that we start stripping our country with its little left beauty. Grave environmental dangers are already forecasted including rise in temperatures and loss of biodiversity. There is utterly no water resource management and we are very close to wars on the issue.

Why are we so blind?

Lahore’s canal – alternative views

Raza Rumi

I am posting three insightful pieces on TheSouthAsianIdea Weblog that deal with the controversy over the construction of an expressway along the Lahore Canal. Whilst we support the Lahore Bachao Tehreek, it is important that all voices of reason should be reckoned for a full debate. I liked this part:

The bottom line is that it is not the case that there is no need for any new road construction at all. But smart urban growth requires that road construction be integrated into an intelligent plan that is focused on transporting the maximum number of people with the minimum number of vehicles at the lowest economic and environmental cost.

Here are the three articles:

Lahore – A Canal Runs Through It

Chief Justice takes suo motu notice of Canal Road widening; orders no trees be cut

From Dawn, 28 November 2009

LAHORE, Nov 27: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry on Friday took suo motu notice against proposed chopping of trees in the provincial metropolis to widen Canal Road.

Chief Justice Chaudhry directed the authorities concerned to put their plans of cutting the trees on hold and summoned the chief secretary and the environment secretary on Dec 1 at Court House in Islamabad.

The chief justice took notice on applications moved by two NGOs namely the Concerned Citizens of Pakistan (CCP) and the Lahore Bachao Tehreek (LBT), seeking a restraining order against proposed cutting of trees to widen Canal Road.

Earlier, Dawn reported in its Nov 26 edition that environmentalists, conservationists and civil society activists had sought help of the CJP to save hundreds of trees likely to be felled during Eid holidays to pave the way for widening of Canal Road. Through an application to the CJP, they had said the Punjab government was planning to widen Canal Road from Thokar Niaz Beg to Dharampura underpass at a hefty cost of Rs3.15 billion, without fulfilling its obligations under the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act, 1997, and the chief minister had announced that work on the project should be started.
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Hundreds of parks now victims of PHA neglect

By Nauman Tasleem

LAHORE: The Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) is neglecting hundreds of small parks in different parts of the city.

The authority has been focusing on 600 parks, including a few main public places, while ignoring the remaining 400 situated in different localities of the city. The PHA was established in 1998 with the objective of making the city “clean and beautiful”. The authority works on the parks and grounds of housing schemes approved by the Lahore Development Authority (LDA). The PHA is neglecting a little under half of around 1,000 parks in the city, leaving most of them in an abysmal state. Continue reading

It’s time for the October Critical Mass Lahore!!!

Join Lahore’s 11th Critical Mass Event at 10:15am this Sunday 25 October 2009 from the Fountain Square, Neela Gumbat, behind Bank Square on Mall Road, Lahore.

This Critical Mass cycling event ill see us prowling the innards of Lahore where riding a bike offers the chance to sample more of  Walled City life without picking a tab.

The thrum of the historic Walled City will lift your spirits as we catch the city-folks going about their morning ritual of Nashta.  If you’re worried about the security situation, you can stay at home at let the terrorists win.

Spinning via Anarkali Bazar we will enter the walled city from Lohari Gate and zigzag our way through the maze of Said Mitha, Paniwala Talab, Rang Mahal, Kashmiri Bazar, Chuna Mandi, Sheranwala Gate, and weave our way back from Fort Road, Red Light District, and Bhati Gate returning to Nila Gumbad via Lower Mall.

Critical Mass is about having clean cities that provide mobility and accessibility. Critical Mass is about clean transport. Critical Mass is about putting public good over private interest. Critical Mass is about making friends. Critical Mass is about reclaiming public space. Critical Mass is about showing a man or a woman on a cycle is the same as one in a ten lac car. Critical Mass is about democracy.

Lahore now the most polluted city in Pakistan?

Road PollutionSo much for “development”, so much for the overpasses, the underpasses, the Foodstreets, Jashn-e-Baharan, the Lahore Road, Rehabilitation Project, all of the PHA’s many “efforts”, beautification and so on.  So much for it.  Lahore is now the most polluted city in Pakistan.  Surely someone should accept the fact that the medicine is killing the patient.

The newspaper article below is also an indictment of the thoughtless commercialization policies that have fuelled commercial and industrial activity within the city and, often, even in quiet residential areas.  It’s an indictment of how inequitable our cities are becoming; and how anti-public space and anti-people they have become.  Arif Hasan has called Karachi an “unethically planned city.” Given the short-sighted pursuit we give to the notion of a “World Class City”, I think Lahore is fast earning the same moniker.

Industrialisation, mounting pollution threaten Lahore

Thursday, September 24, 2009
By Ali Raza (The News http://tiny.cc/hQxLT)

LAHORE: Rapidly increasing industrialization and commercialisation has turned the provincial metropolis — once known as the City of Gardens — into one of the most polluted cities in the country.

Even residential localities are not safe from increasing trends of commercialization and industrialization because many industrial zones, which were established some years ago outside the city, are now situated right in middle of the City.

Light and heavy industrial units have been established in various city localities i.e. Misri Shah, Baghbanpura, Mughalpura, Daroghewala, Bhagat Pura, Chah Miran, Shadbagh and other localities along the Bund Road and GT Road. These industries include steel foundries, steel re-rolling mills, kilns, steel furnaces, scrap yards, plastic recycling industry, marble grinding, furniture making and several other kinds of cottage industries. All of these industries are spreading different types of pollutions especially air, noise, vibration and heat.
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It’s time for September’s Critical Mass Event!!!

Critical Mass IIIFellow Lahoris, Critical Mass Lahore has survived the summer and has been enjoyed through Ramzan.  Now, it’s time to rally once more for the cause of public transport, sustainable development, democratic public spaces and, of course, the right to have fun on our own streets!!!

Join Lahore’s 10th Critical Mass Event at 5:00pm this Sunday 27 September 2009 from the Zakir Tikka intersection, Sarwar Road, Lahore Cantonment.

Critical Mass is about having clean cities that provide mobility and accessibility. Critical Mass is about clean transport. Critical Mass is about putting public good over private interest. Critical Mass is about making friends. Critical Mass is about reclaiming public space. Critical Mass is about showing a man or a woman on a cycle is the same as one in a ten lac car. Critical Mass is about democracy.

What do I need to participate in a Critical Mass Event?

All you need is a road-worthy cycle and an sense of fun. Buy, beg, borrow or steal a cycle if you have to, but join the Mass.  Come, cycle around Lahore.  Reclaim your city, and have more fun than you can imagine!

Where and how else do Critical Mass Events take place?
Critical Mass events are typically held on the last Friday of each month in over 250 cities all over the world. In Lahore, it is held on the last Sunday of every month.  For information about Critical Mass Lahore, be at Zakir Tikka at 5:00pm this Sunday 27 September 2009 or visit the Critical Mass Lahore Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=38992998526) or the Critical Mass Lahore blog
Important: Be on time!!!

The destruction of Lahore’s environment is a trend that needs to be reversed, says Raza Rumi

Moaning about Lahore’s most elitist enclave, GOR-I, is a contentious undertaking. On the one hand, it was, until recently, the best of what the British left us – lovingly p9aadorned with diverse species of trees, home to glorious specimens of ecologically-friendly architecture and an old-world-charm unparalleled for its simplicity and elegance. On the other hand, it was also a symbol of the extractive, Punjab-centric colonial state of the nineteenth century, lorded over by the agents of the Indian civil service.

But when one has lived in those sublime environs, not as the scion of a landed, aristocratic clan but rather as a member of a middle-class, professional family, what is one to do?GOR-I was a lonely plant of sorts amid the sprawl of Lahore, with trees, birds and orchards one would not have expected to find in an Asian mega-city. Continue reading

Critical Mass Lahore, July 2009

Critical Mass -II
It’s time for Critical Mass July 2009

We meet at Zakir Tikka intersection on Sarwar Road in the Lahore Cantonment at 6.15pm on Sunday 26 July 2009.

Critical Mass is about having clean cities that provide mobility and accessibility. Critical Mass is about clean transport. Critical Mass is about putting public good over private interest. Critical Mass is about making friends. Critical Mass is about reclaiming public space. Critical Mass is about showing a man on a cycle is the same as a man in a ten lac car. Critical Mass is about democracy.

Critical Mass
is not an organization. It is an idea. It is about making a statement. Everyone in Lahore knows how bad the traffic is. Critical Mass Lahore is a step towards making our city clean and taking our streets back.

Critical Mass
is an idea. Make it yours.
What do I need to participate in a Critical Mass Event?
All you need is a road-worthy cycle and an sense of fun. Buy, beg, borrow or steal a cycle if you have to, but join the Mass. Come, cycle around Lahore. Reclaim your city, and have more fun than you think!
Where and how else to Critical Mass Events take place?

Critical Mass events are typically held on the last Friday of each month in cities all over the world. For information about Critical Mass Lahore, be at Zakir Tikka at 6:15pm this Sunday 26 July 2009 or visit the Critical Mass Lahore Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=38992998526). Important: Be on time!!!

Islamabad choking on exhausts

ISLAMABAD: Vehicular exhausts, containing a range of toxic substances, are suffocating Islamabad, according to health experts and environmentalists.

What Islooites ought to be concerned about is that once these substances, suspended in the air, are breathed in by humans the bloodstream transports the toxins to the body’s major organs. Continue reading

Cycle bling

Last Sunday’s Critical Mass event was a success.  About 40 cycle enthusiasts turned out in the late afternoon to cycle around the city in an effort to raise awareness about the environment, alternative modes of transport, democratic development and also just to enjoy themselves.

One enthusiast brought what was, by far, the most blinged-out cycle I have seen.  Here are some photographs:

Cycle Bling I

This is what he had written on the front of the cycle:

Cycle Bling II

Now that’s cycle-sense if ever saw it!!!

It’s time for Lahore’s 6th Critical Mass Event

Critical Mass -II

Date: 31 May 2009
Time: 5.45pm (till about 7.30pm)
Place: Zakir Tikka intersection, Sarwar Road, Lahore Cantonment

Critical Mass is about having clean cities that provide mobility and accessibility. Critical Mass is about clean transport. Critical Mass is about putting public good over private interest. Critical Mass is about making friends. Critical Mass is about reclaiming public space. Critical Mass is about showing a man on a cycle is the same as a man in a ten lac car. Critical Mass is about democracy.

Critical Mass is not an organization. It is an idea. It is about making a statement. Everyone in Lahore knows how bad the traffic is. Critical Mass Lahore is a step towards making our city clean and taking our streets back.

Critical Mass is an idea. Make it yours.

What do I need to participate in a Critical Mass Event?

All you need is a road-worthy cycle and an sense of fun. Buy, beg, borrow or steal a cycle if you have to, but join the Mass.

Where and how else to Critical Mass Events take place?

Critical Mass events are typically held on the last Friday of each month in cities all over the world. For information about Critical Mass Lahore, be at Zakir Tikka at 5:45pm this Sunday 31 May 2009 or visit the Critical Mass Lahore Facebook page. Important: Be on time!!!

Young Pakistanis Take One Problem Into Their Own Hands

LAHORE, Pakistan — The idea was simple, but in Pakistan, a country full of talk and short on action, it smacked of rebellion.

A group of young Pakistani friends, sick of hearing their families complain about the government, decided to spite them by taking matters into their own hands: every Sunday they would grab shovels, go out into their city, and pick up garbage. Continue reading

It’s time for Lahore’s 4th Critical Mass cycling event

critical-mass-march-20091

The effects of Lahore’s urban sprawl

Yesterday, I posted an article about the LDA’s latest schemes in South Lahore.

Today, I’m posting my column as it appeared in The News:

Behind Lahore’s worsening crisis

Since the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team at Lahore’s Liberty Market, nothing seems to make sense anymore. The country and its people appear to be drifting to anarchy and chaos. There is deep political crisis. The presidency has stolen the mandate of the people of Punjab and the Swat peace deal is crumbling at its foundations. A Pakistani Taliban is taking over the northern regions. The economy is in deep slide (getting more IFI financing is not the same as a dynamic economy). Poverty is near 40 percent, and violence, intolerance and extremism are on the rise. Government institutions have failed; others are crumbling fast. The integrity of our armed forces is under question. Even cricket is dead.

We can scream blue murder because it’s broken. We can try and blame one another for breaking it. Or we can set about fixing it. You don’t need to be a genius to do this; or be a natural-born leader of men. You just need to participate. This is our mess. We need to clean it up.
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Urban Sprawl update: LDA launches two new housing schemes

by Yasir Habib Khan in The Nation, 23 March

LAHORE – Just few days before the new government is going to assume its charge in Punjab, the Lahore Development Authority has launched two new housing schemes with 2,10,000 plots.
These two schemes, situated at southern part of the city, are learnt to be run on the footstep of Defence Housing Authority. The LDA approved the housing schemes on October 31, 2006 with notification under LDA Act 1975 to meet the residential requirements of the city. The Punjab government has banned sale and purchase of land in the concerned areas.
One housing scheme covering around 25,000 kanal land will be situated at Raiwand road. while second housing scheme will spread on Ferozpur road spreading 2 lack and 25 thousands kanals of land
LDA Director General Muhammad Arif Khan announced the two schemes during a press conference held at LDA Plaza here on Saturday.
According to map of scheme, the housing scheme at Ferozepur road will touch from the North Hadiyara Drain, from the South Suaya Asal road, from the West main railway line. While front of the scheme would be stretched out million of kilometer on Ferozepur road. Raiwand road scheme includes 11 small townswhich include moza Janjate, Pajeyan, Khana Nepal, Dhondey, Rakh Raaye, Raaye, Rakgh Jaddo Dher, Jadu Dheer, Karyal, Raiwand and moza Jiya Bagga.
Both the schemes would involve 23 small towns including moza Sadhar, Pandoki, Jalkey, Chehdow, Rakth Chehdow, Toor Wariach, Tehpanju, Badooki, Khand, Asal Suleman, Aato Asal, Kachah, Kang Sharif, Jiya Bagga, Chak Boota, Dhodhey, Raiwand, Karyal, Jalal Pura, Jadu Dheer, Ladhu Key Acheh, Watney, and moza Kangra.
The housing schemes would focus low-income groups in the city besides preparing large number of three-marla plots for widows, orphans and the destitute. The LDA DG Muhammad Arif Khan said that in scheme No 1 there would be 7500 plots for one kanal plots, 7500 plots for 10 marlas, 8333 plots for 3 marlas.
In Scheme No 2, there would be 15000 plots for one kanal, 15000 plots for 10 marlas, and 16666 plots for 3 marlas.
It is learnt that Mian Amer Mahmood, who is also the chairman of the Lahore Development Authority, directed for selling these plots to the lower class on minimum possible prices, providing construction plans along with estimates to the people free of cost and exempting these plots from getting approved site plan.
The sources said that the district nazim asked for allocating big chunks of land for setting up four colleges, two each for boys and girls in these schemes as well as for reserving more land for public utility sites and establishing commercial areas in view of future requirements. “The nazim also directed to ensure electricity supply lines under ground and a water treatment plant included in the planning of these schemes, the sources concluded.

Critical Mass Lahore February 2009

critical-mass-iii2
The last Sunday of the month is approaching. You know this means it’s time for Critical Mass.
Join us at 10am this Sunday 22 February for Lahore’s 3rd Critical Mass cycling event.

Cyclists in China coined the term Critical Mass to describe the phenomenon that takes place when cyclists can take over streets and traffic dominated by automobiles. Critical Mass now takes place in over 200 cities around the world.
Critical Mass is not an organization. It is an idea. Critical Mass is about having clean cities that provide mobility and accessibility. Critical Mass is about clean transport.
Critical Mass is about showing a man on a cycle is the same as a man in a ten lac car. Critical Mass is about democracy. Critical Mass is about having the right to mobility.
Everyone in Lahore knows how bad the traffic is. Critical Mass Lahore is the first step in taking our streets back.
Critical Mass is an idea. Make it yours.

What do I need to participate in a Critical Mass Event?

Nothing but a road-worthy cycle and an sense of fun.

Where and how else to Critical Mass Events take place?

Critical Mass events are typically held on the last Friday of each month in cities all over the world. Get more information at http://www.critical-mass.info. For information about Critical Mass Lahore, some to Zakir Tikka at 10am on Sunday 22 February 2009.