LAHORE: Like the mythological phoenix, the dying Ravi River is set to rise from its remains and give birth to a new Lahore on the largest 46 kilometres long riverfront to compete with any modern city in the world.
An ambitious urban development project by Prime Minister Imran Khan's government to build a new Pakistan, the Ravi River Front Urban Development (RRFUD) project will uplift the dying Ravi River, almost reduced to a nullah by the unlawful construction of dams by the Indian government.
The construction of a 46-kilometer long lake from Ravi Siphon to Hudiara, laying of complex network of roads and construction of 12 new high-tech cities will be the hallmark of this project, the one being started under the vision of the Prime Minister for building 'Naya Pakistan.'
Provincial Minister for Housing, Urban Development and Public Health Engineering (HUD&PHE) Mian Mehmood-ur-Rasheed described it a novel project that would benefit the communities and the investors, and help improve environment of the city. "The RRFUD project is reflection of Prime Minister Imran Khan's vision to build a new Pakistan," the minister said. "The PTI government is fulfilling another promise made to the people."
He said the Ravi Riverfront would be developed in three phases. In the first phase, a lake covering 46 kilometres area, six wastewater treatment plants, three barrages and urban forest would be developed during first three years.
The minister said a total land area of 103,271 acres would be acquired for the project that would also include building of waste water and surface water treatment plants, network of roads and 12 new cities, including Medical City, Residential City, Downtown, Commercial Hub, Urban Farms and Miscellaneous Use City.
Lahore city, once known for its beautiful gardens, historic buildings and a culture loved by everyone, had suffered the unchecked populace migration, pollution and ground water adulteration.
"Innovation City spanning over 1370 acres will be developed in the second phase while the third phase will see the completion of Knowledge City, Sports City and Eco City on a land area of 14000 acres," the minister said.
He said the development of the lake would purge the Ravi of domestic and industrial waste, and provide 271 billion litres of water, adding that the waste water treatment plants would help treat 2.4 billion litres water that would irrigate 75,000 acres of land.
Elaborating the importance of 'Surface Water Treatment Plants', he said the plant would decrease dependency of the Lahorites on the ground water by 50 percent as 2.4 billion litres of safe drinking water would be produced from the canal water after treatment.
Mian Mehmood-ur-Rasheed said the project would be completed with an estimated cost of Rs 2,000 billion with financing to be met though public private partnerships (PPPs), joint ventures (JVs), Private Finance Initiative (PFI), multilateral loan and grants and budgetary grants and developer financing.
Successive governments had failed to check illegal construction and massive migration to the dream city that resulted in its abrupt growth and shrinking facilities. None of the governments in the past could introduce a comprehensive plan for preserving the beauty and human friendly environment of the city.
Mounting pressure of human and vehicular population had resulted in multiple health and mobility problems. During last winter it was reckoned and the most polluted city in the world due to prevailing massive smog that had resulted in ailment of thousands of its residents.
"We have envisaged a city of future dreams. It will meet the water needs of Lahore till 2045," Mahmood-ur-Rasheed said. "With a length of 46 kilometres and a width of 3280 feet surrounded by a 33 feet high wall, it will look like a gift of nature for the people of Lahore."
He said three barrages would be built to attain the water level for the riverfront as the project was to generate enormous financial activity through creation of new jobs, housing facilities, clean environment and futuristic facilities.
The RRFUD project would be the second planned urban project after Islamabad that would give a unique look of a modern city to compete with another most advanced and beautiful city in the world. This project would be another feather in the cap of the PTI government, which had already embarked on number of projects for socio-economic uplift of masses and putting country back on the path of economic revival.
"It is a step towards fulfillment of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) election manifesto. We are committed to continue our journey to prosperity, better environment, public welfare and economic stability in the country," the minister said.