LAHORE: A “New Lahore” plan being launched by the PTI-led government would represent the wishes of the city’s residents and overseas Pakistanis, the special assistant to Punjab chief minister, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, said Friday.
“The ‘New Lahore’ plan is a masterpiece,” Dr Firdous Awan said, adding that although it was planned and announced seven years ago, “the past government, in its goals of bragging and gasconade, focused more on the plans that provided higher kickbacks”.
“River Ravi, which was Lahore’s identity and real face, has now become a pile of garbage. The drainage, dirt, and the damage to the river’s own beauty in River Ravi, has become an ugly blot on Lahore’s face,” the chief minister’s aide said.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and the provincial government have taken the initiative to make Lahore a beautiful city, with “modern, latest, technology-based innovative ideas”, she said.
“The ‘New Lahore’ plan is aimed at bringing to life the dreams that all Pakistanis — and especially residents of Lahore — have often dreamt of,” she added.
Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan mentioned that the ‘New Lahore’ project attracted “a safe investment worth Rs28 billion, will provide employment to 1.2 million people, and set up 1.8 residential units”.
The ‘New Lahore’ project would have 13 centres — including sports, knowledge, health, and commercial enterprises — as well as other plans. More than six million plants will be planted to control environmental pollution and “a 46-kilometre lake is a main prime factor of this plan”, she explained.
“In this region, this will be the latest technology-based housing and tourism spot, will initiate economic mobility, and attract investment from the overseas Pakistanis. It will bring prosperity and development and [unlike the plans of] those who remained busy building their palaces in Jati Umrah, this will become an actual masterpiece to be implemented through the Ravi Urban Development Authority (RUDA) project.
“We will include our friends in the media in it as well. I made a suggestion that [the ‘New Lahore’ plan] should include a media city as well so that the youth of our future whose livelihood is associated with the media industry may benefit,” she said.
“A project that has so much volume and worth is incomplete without journalists,” she added.
Dr Awan regretted that Lahore was no more the same city that the older generations praised for its beauty, culture, and tourism.
“Today’s Lahore has failed to uphold the traditions of their elders because the challenges here include traffic pollution, smog, a haphazard growth of population, lack of planning in housing sector and road network, and the lack of organised structure everywhere [in Lahore] is being felt.”
The CM’s aide clarified that some people had been misguided about the ‘New Lahore’ project either because “the residents were not properly made aware of the benefits of this project or the proper way to make them aware was vague, paving way for misunderstandings”.
She criticised news and media outlets for “showing protests” and “one side of the picture”, saying the government now wished to show the other side, which were the realities, as well as the challenges and opportunities to “this reality-based project”.
“The government’s job is to translate every challenge into an opportunity,” she noted.