Senate committee declares metro bus project an environmental hazard

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ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel on Wednesday declared the metro bus project in twin cities as a major environmental hazard for the beauty of the capital, and raised questions about the violation of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority’s (PEPRA) rules for execution of the project.
The sub-committee of the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat’s meeting chaired by Senator Kamil Ali Agha also took exception to the holding of public hearing for the citizens of the city on this project, after the work on the project was initiated.
Costing Rs 44 billion to the national exchequer, a comfortable transportation facility for the citizens can be provided with only Rs 2 billion, Kamil noted, and also showed surprise over the alleged interference of the Punjab government and the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) in the affairs of the civic body of the capital.
He pointed that Islamabad is believed to be one of the picturesque capital cities, but trees are being uprooted at a major scale for this project despite reservations of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “This practice shows that all the beauty of the city would be destroyed like the Lahore’s metro bus project, that erased the Lady Willingdon Hospital,” Agha said. He also said that the trees that were planted several years ago have been chopped off for this project, and it seems impossible that they could be grown again. Senator Saeeda Iqbal pointed out that it appears that the RDA has taken over the CDA by referring to the boards displayed everywhere in the city, and suggested that if they are too necessary, then the boards carrying the picture of MNA Tariq Fazal Chaudhry should be erected on the sides of the roads.
PML-N’s Senator Begum Najma Hameed however rejected the apprehensions of the fellow senators and recalled that same objections were raised when Nawaz Sharif started the work on the Motorway which is now the fastest communication link in the country. She also objected to the allegations that the iron and steel of the Ittefaq Foundary is being utilised in the project. Senator Sugrha Imam pointed out that the public hearing was held in May this year on this project, whereas the work underwent in April, which she termed as the grave violation of the rules and regulations.
An NGO’s representative, working on environment, pointed out that the city is being deprived from its green belts through this project, and urged that it should be abandoned to save the beauty of the city. CDA Chairman Maroof Afzal in reply to the queries of the senators said that Article 146 of the constitution has placed restrictions on the federal government’s assistance to the provinces in the development projects, and vice versa.
As per the rules and regulations, the CDA and RDA are working jointly on this project, Afzal contended, and informed that federal and the Punjab government would share the cost of the project at the ratio of 50:50. He informed the committee that separate tracks would be built for the metro bus, but there would not be any bridge for it in any part of the city.
The committee decided that a separate meeting would be held to deliberate upon the questions raised by the EPA on this project, and sought the recommendations of the civil society, Green Islamabad, and an NGO.

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