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LAHORE: Terming the wealth generation projects vital for strengthening the economy, Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday said the country’s first-ever Central Business District project here will serve as a business hub to help in wealth generation.

While speaking at the stone laying ceremony of the project, the PM said he was confident that this project will help generate Rs6,000 billion. In the first phase, he said the project will generate Rs 1,300 billion and the federal government will get Rs 250 billion in taxes. “With huge tenders involved, this project will witness a major takeoff in a short span of time and also transform Lahore into a modern city,” the premier added.

Imran said Pakistan and Qatar have signed a new LNG import agreement for 10 years. “It took the government three years to negotiate this agreement which will help save $ 300 million annually,” he said.

The premier maintained that the economy was mismanaged in the previous two governments. “We inherited a difficult economic situation; however, the current account remained surplus during the first six months of the current fiscal year while textile exports are also witnessing increase and new industries are being set up.”

Terming the Lahore's horizontal expansion as root cause of problems of the city, he said when the Walton airport is de-notified as per the project's plan, tall buildings can be constructed in Gulberg and Ferozepur road and thus these areas can then become the economic hub for Lahore. "The entire city's sewerage is going in River Ravi, a lot of people drink water from the rivers," he said. “The water table of Lahore was declining.”

Referring to the Naya Pakistan Housing Project, the PM said this project will provide affordable houses to the salaried class and the labourers. He said the environment-friendly and urban generation project will be carried out on vertical principles with construction of high-rise buildings.

Imran said he was the biggest supporter of preservation and conservation of environment and always emphasized on considering the environmental aspect while carrying out any project. He added that the apathy of previous governments inflicted huge damage to the environmental conditions of urban cities in particular.

Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar said the economic activities alleviate poverty by providing job opportunities.

Giving details of the project, the CM said that Lahore Central Business District will be completed in three phases over an area of 300 acres. The first phase will be developed over an area of 128 acres and commercial activity of around 1300 billion rupees will be generated, he said. 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.

The CM 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. This environment-friendly initiative will contain various facilities, he continued.

The CM emphasized that this initiative will generate massive job opportunities while ensuring human resource development. Regrettably, different initiatives were started without proper planning and identification of priorities in the past and this demented approach tremendously burdened the government. Now, the CM announced that more than two million people will be provided with the best residential facilities through Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project.

While highlighting the development work done by the PTI government, the CM pointed out that Lal Shahbaz Qalandar Underpass has been completed while underpass and flyover will be constructed at Shahkam Chowk and Karim Block Market Chowk. Meanwhile, underpasses are being constructed near Ghulab Devi Hospital at Ferozpur Road and Band Road Chowk leading towards Samanabad, he added. An overhead bridge will be constructed from Lahore Railway Station to Sheranwala Gate to smooth the traffic flow. Above and beyond, the one thousand bed general hospital project will be completed with nine billion rupees at Ferozpur Road over an area of 124 Kanal. Work is in progress with a cost of four billion rupees to complete the mother & child care hospital at Ganga Ram Hospital, he said.

The CM added that the children hospital has been given the status of University of Child Health Sciences; the radiology block has also been completed in Services Hospital and another state-of-the-art bus terminal will be developed at Thokar Niaz Beg. Electric buses will ply in Lahore in the first phase to save the citizens from environmental pollution, he added.

Meanwhile, an underground water storage tank has been constructed for rainwater storage and ten such facilities will also be developed besides gradual overhauling of outdated sewerage lines in different cities. This has been started with the laying of a large disposal drain from Haji Camp to Ravi, he added.

The CM further stated that an agreement has been signed between the LDA and Punjab Bank to construct four thousand flats and construction of more than 35 thousand apartments over eight thousand kanals land has been planned. Flats will be given to low-income families on soft terms. The mega projects will be moved forward according to their timelines and Lahore will be put on the path of real development and prosperity, concluded the CM.

Earlier, the CM called on Prime Minister Imran Khan and discussed progress in the ongoing development schemes of Punjab, political matters and other important issues.

The PM called for taking steps against profiteers, hoarders of essential commodities. Furthermore, Special Assistant to CM Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan accompanied by Syed Ali Zafar and PTI candidate from NA-75 Asjad Malhi called on Imran Khan and discussed election in NA-75. Dr Firdous apprised the PM about the situation in NA-75 and decision of ECP to hold fresh polls in the constituency. The sources claimed that it was decided to challenge the ECP decision to hold re-polling in constituency in the Lahore High Court.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021