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Billions of LOS project going down drain
02-04-2014, 12:20 AM
Post: #1
Billions of LOS project going down drain

The construction work on the three-lane carriageway – from LOS Chowk to Multan Road – has again come to a standstill, after the ill-planned drilling for building pillars hit an underground drain parallel to the Cantt drain, causing further delay in the project and phenomenal increase in the estimated budget.

Started six months ago, the Rs 3.8 billion project is aimed at building the carriageway over the Cantt drain after covering it with concrete base. The Lahore Development Authority (LDA) sublet the project to a private contractor, with an estimated completion time of one year.

Two weeks ago, the private contractor was drilling on the bed of the Cantt drain for installing concrete pillars when the machine hit the wall of the 200-year-old sewer running beside the Cantt drain a few feet below. The breach caused the water to immediately fill up the drain whose water was blocked for many days, in order to pile concrete bed and pillars to support the highway base.

The dirty water has hindered the work for piling of base and digging for pillars, and is now eroding the soft soil on both sides of the project, threatening the existing road and houses on both sides.

The project engineers and WASA officials completely ignored the large colonial-era sewer running alongside the Cantt drain while making feasibility and the construction plan. Now, the drain breach posses a serious threat to hundreds of houses and shops on the side of the road. Heavy flow of drain water could erode the soil of foundations of the houses and the shops.

The drain water has inundated the entire project site and its level is rising. The contractor used electric pumps to drain out the water but the water level did not go down. The pumps being used for the purpose had the capacity of 25 cusecs but the drain water was flowing in at a rate of 75 cusecs. The project was meant to construct a three-lane carriageway over the Cantt drain passing through the congested Samnabad area from LOS stop to Multan Road and it was to be linked with the recently expanded Ferozepur Road Metro Bus project.

The road was to cater to a traffic load of over 50,000 vehicles per day. The project was also designed to enhance the capacity of existing Cantt drain in such a manner as to construct two channels: one for sewerage and the other for rainwater. During the six-month project construction, the project stopped twice. It was suspended for two months when the project worker damaged the main gas pipeline along with PTCL cables of the entire area. The work remains suspended for the past sixteen days now, as a new trunk sewer is being discovered and damaged by the project workers.

The damaged trunk sewer line was constructed before the Partition and the project management was completely unaware of the said sewer line.

The leaked sewer is running 35 feet beneath the surface between the buildings and the Cantt drain.

Sources told The News that Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) was not taking any responsibility for the drain and had not paid any heed to the leakage. So far, no practical step has been taken by the LDA and WASA authorities to stop the leakage of around 75 cusec drain water, the sources said and added that only a water pump with a capacity of 25 cusec was installed four days back to pump out the leakage drain water from the construction site, which was not sufficient to handle the water leakage.

Talking to The News, Babar Butt, President Auto Workshop Association LOS, said there were around 150 auto-workshops employing more than 1000 workers. He said since the project started, the traffic remains blocked from both ends on LOS road and the workshops have to stop working. Babar But added that the government had paid compensation only to the residents’ owners for acquiring their places but not a single penny had been given to the poor workers of the autoworkshops.

He said it was quite difficult for the workshop owners to pay salary to their workers as their workshops had been forcibly closed down. He said most of the workers had already left and the owners of these workshops had only two jobs to do: to pay electricity, gas, and other utility bills; and to wait till the time this project will be completed.

He said surface mud had been sliding day by day and soon their buildings would be at the risk of collapse, if the leakage was not stopped immediately.

Butt said the Punjab chief minister should take immediate action and himself visit the site to see what kind of problems the people had been facing due to the LOS project.

A senior officer of the LDA, on condition of anonymity, told The News that DMD WASA Israr Shah had been contacted a number of times soon after the leakage, and when he went there after a lapse of 24 hours, he refused to do any thing regarding the leakage, saying it was not the responsibility of WASA and the private contractor should deal with this leakage.

Chief Engineer LDA and Project Director LOS Israr Saeed admitted that the drain had leaked owing to their negligence. He claimed they were using pumps to control the dirty water leakage from the old drain besides planning to reconstruct the entire drain. In this regard, he said they had given the task to the consultant for replacing it. He said that there was network of drains, but WASA lacked proper mapping. They were working on it too, he added.

The News could not reach DG LDA Ahad Cheema, MD WASA Dr Javed Iqbal despite repeated calls and text messages on their cell phones
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