Construction of Malir Expressway to Lahore Master Plan 2050; Infocus Weekly Briefs

by M. Wasim

22 April 2022

Construction of Malir Expressway allowed

The Sindh Environmental Protection Tribunal this week allowed the provincial government and relevant authorities to continue construction work on Malir Expressway, rejecting major objections raised against a multi-billion-rupee controversial project. The three-member tribunal, headed by retired Justice Nisar Ahmed Shaikh however, ordered a monitoring committee to implement over two-dozen conditions set out by it. The tribunal disposed of appeal challenging issuance of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Malir Expressway project by the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) in alleged violation of environmental laws. The apeal was jointly filed by some residents of Malir and environmentalist in 2022 asking the tribunal to declare that the EIA approval accorded by Sepa as unlawful and without authority.

SEPA Permits Malir Expressway Construction

Malir Expressway is described in the EIA approval as a 38.75-kilometer-long six-lane dual carriageway that willallow a direct route for heavy vehicles from the industrial areas in Korangi and Landhi to outside the city. The EIA approval further stated that the location of the project was starting from right before the Jam Sadiq bridge on Korangi Road and run along the right bank of the Malir river through the Korangi and Malir districts terminating on M-9 near DHA City outside Karachi. The appellants submitted that the project approval is a violations of the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Review of Initial Environmental Examination and Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations, 2014. But Sepa has contended that the appeal was not maintainable since the same was time barred and filed after 30 days, as the project`s EIA was approved on April 6, 2022 while the appeal was filed on May 13 with an unexplained delay of about a week.

Lahore Master Plan 2050 to be reviewed by WWF

The Lahore Development Authority (LDA) has decided to get the Lahore Division Mater Plan-2050 reviewed by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Urban Unit of the Punjab Planning and Development Department. The review will be conducted soon after the LDA gets certified copies of the Lahore High Court`s detailed judgment under which the implementation of the plan was suspended in January, 2023. According to a LDA official “in its short order on Jan 10, 2023, the LHC had suspended enforcement of the new master plan-2050 approved by the LDA`s governing body. The LHC, during hearing was also of the view that the plan should have been shared with some independent experts or entities for consultation before being approved by the LDA`s governing body. The court, besides suspending the plan with a direction to not implement it, also sought its reviwed by the WWF and the Urban Unit, keeping in view the growing urban issues in the Punjab capital.”


On Dec 30, last year, the new Lahore Master Plan 2050 had come into force after the LDA notified it for the public at large. The plan envisaged a new city centre in Gulberg and contained details of the city`s future growth, expansion, settlement and plans. In January this year while suspending operation of Lahore`s Master Plan 2050, the court observed the random and aimless development projects of the government had made it difficult for the citizens to breathe. The court suspended the plan`s operation after being told in a petition that the approval of the plan by LDA was clearly a “managed affair” and designed to extend undue benefits to the land mafia and land developers. The official said that following the court orders, the LDA is now entertaining only those applications seeking approval of housing schemes and land subdivisions under the Master Plan 2016. The New Plan also incorporated plans and policies of three other authorities notified by the Punjab government i.e. Walled City of Lahore Authority, Punjab Central Business Districts Development Authority and Ravi Urban Development Authority.

Call to curb Smuggling of Steel

The steel manufacturers have written a letter to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif pleading him to curb the devastating smuggling of steel from Iran and Afghanistan, which has sizably cost the local steel manufacturers. In the letter Pakistan Association of Large Steel Producers (PALSP) Secretary General Syed Wajid Bukhari informed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif that over 80% steel bars sold in Balochistan were coming from Iran through smuggling, misdeclaration and under-invoicing. Due to weak vigilance by the security apparatus, the smuggled steel is now reaching out to Lahore and Karachi as well as other cities, rendering thousands of workers jobless.

The letter highlighted that approximately 500,000 MT of steel has been sourced illegally from Iran and Afghanistan and mentioned that the industry is already struggling through many challenges including currency depreciation, increased financing cost and price hike of various inputs. Moreover, 500,000 MT of steel being brought in illegally makes up for 10% of total steel production in Pakistan and has cost a revenue loss of some PKR 25 billion to the national exchequer annually. The General Secretary deplored despite repeated requests to the government to deter this unlawful activity by taking effective measures, no steps have so far been taken to control this illegal activity. He, however, suggested the government that the import of steel should be allowed only through sea routes to effectively counter the threat posed by smuggling.

Construction Sector shrunk in LSM

Large-scale manufacturing (LSM) shrank 11.6% in February over the same month last year causing massive layoffs, even in export oriented industries, showed data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics this week. The big industry production contracted for the sixth consecutive month of the current fiscal year indicating that economic growth will slip further. It is estimated that the fourth quarter will be more disturbing owing to the discontinuation of subsidised energy to industries along with the highest-ever cost of industrial inputs. In the construction sector, the production of iron and steel dipped 9.19% during February mainly because of a decline of 23.85% in billets/ingots, whereas that of non-metallic mineral products dipped 1.33%. However, chemical products posted a positive growth of 2.96% in February from a year ago.

LSM-Based Industries of Construction Materials

Overall the LSM sector, which contributes one-tenth to the national output, has shown a year-over-year decline as factories close down or slash production because of raw material shortages caused by supply chain disruptions, increased energy prices, steep currency depreciation, rising interest costs, and, last but not the least, contraction in domestic and international demand. According to some economists, the country could experience negative growth and unemployment may rise to a record 10% in the current fiscal. Business confidence is at its lowest because of government policies that are choking the economy through demand compression and import restrictions.

New Housing Scheme by MDA

Sindh Minister for Local Government Syed Nasir Hussain Shah has stated in a news report that the Malir Development Authority (MDA) will develop a new low-cost housing society and termed the scheme “a facility and relief for the people of Sindh.” He shared this information while chairing the MDA governing body meeting at his office and mentioned that public housing schemes are essential for the poor and to address this MDA will introduce a low-cost housing scheme. Mr. Shah further disclosed that all possible facilities will be provided to those who are interested in constructing a university or hospital under the MDA.

The minister ordered to complete all legal requirements regarding the revenue boards and ensurity of lands before establishing the housing scheme. Mr. Shah also directed the MDA officials to follow the new rules of the Board of Revenue (BoR) and stated that the authority is considering buying relevant equipment and machinery to remove encroachments instead of renting the required equipment. The meeting discussed the proposal of cancelling of plots of those who have paid less than 50% of the total price for their plots. It was discussed that advertisements will be issued in major newspapers regarding defaulters, while Terms of Reference (ToR) will be devised for those who want land for constructing the hospital or university. 

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