Central Business District; Adding more Concrete in City of Gardens

by M. Wasim

On January 22, Prime Minister Imran Khan had chaired a high-level meeting to review progress on different housing projects including Ravi Riverfront Urban Development besides reviewing the progress on the relocation of Walton airport in order to develop the area as the Central Business District.

Two days later the Punjab government approved the establishment of Lahore Central Business District (CBD) Development Authority under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Usman Buzdar. The newly-established authority has been given powers to launch all genres of development works besides acting as an independent institution to finalise matters related to land rules, including powers for sale and purchase of land and impose fines against violators of approved master plan for the state land.

The Lahore CBD Development Authority is also authorised to devise regulations for water and sewerage charges and give final approval to construct high-rise buildings.

Shifting of Walton Airport

A month later Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone of the ambitious Central Business District (CBD) project at the Walton Airport site, asserting that the project would help create much-needed wealth to pay off foreign loans. Announcing that the Walton Airport would soon be de-notified, the prime minister said an economic hub would be created as many high-rises would also be constructed along the Gulberg Main Boulevard and Ferozepur Road which would generate some much-needed Rs6,000 billion.

Although the Lahore flying club has already moved the Lahore High Court against this government move, stating that the government promulgated Lahore Central Business District Development Authority Ordinance, 2021, on Feb 4 in violation of law to abruptly close down operations of the club. However, an anti-encroachment drive is already in the offing.

Project’ Details

According to the CM Lahore Central Business District would be completed in three phases over an area of 300 acres. A Commercial district will be established in the first phase, a Digital district will be introduced in the second phase while a Residential district will be built in the third phase. While only by developing the first phase over an area of 128 acres, according to him, around a sum of 1300 billion rupees will be generated through commercial activities, which would offer some Rs250 billion to the federal government in the tax revenue.

The Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar maintained that high-rise buildings will depict Lahore’s rich cultural heritage while the project’s entry and exit points will be designed on the pattern of historic gates of the provincial metropolis.

An Environment Disaster

It is an open secret many developers had in their sights this valuable piece of land. An Abu Dhabi-based company has shown interest in constructing a multi-storied business hub, while the remaining land is expected to be utilized for the Naya Pakistan housing scheme. In a late night operation on Feb 14, all the nurseries that had been in existence since 1992 have been removed, whether legally or otherwise, on the land that is owned by the Civil Aviation Authority.

There are already numerous high-rise buildings on the main boulevard in Gulberg. Adding more such buildings will increase the number of concrete jungles rather than restoring Lahore to its former glory as a city of gardens. Among other things, this is in sharp contradiction with the government`s stated policy of clean and green Pakistan.


Editorial, Infocus

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