By: Naeem Niazi-Aftab Zahoor
LAHORE, Mar 21 : Like the mythological phoenix, the dying river Ravi is set to rise from its remains and give birth to a new Lahore on the largest 46 kilometers long riverfront to compete with any modern city in the world.
An ambitious urban development project by the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government to build a new Pakistan, Ravi River Front Urban Development (RRFUD) project will uplift the dying river Ravi, almost reduced to a drain due to waste water pouring into it.
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 would be the hallmark of this project, the one being started under the vision of the Prime Minister for building ‘Naya Pakistan.’
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 contamination.
Decades after decades, the situation continued worsening. Previous governments had also envisaged this project but since the project was too gigantic, the then government could not dare to embark on it.
Prime Minister Imran Khan known for taking on the challenges revived the project with a commitment to make Lahore regain its lost grandeur and ensure better environment and water availability for the second mega city of the country.
“Think big and you will do big,” the Prime Minister had remarked at the time of laying foundation stone for the project as he was confident that a great nation could be created through great ideas.
Execution of Ravi riverfront project is another great idea of the series he is implementing since last two years in the form of Kamyab Jawan Program, Sehat Insaaf Card, Billion Trees project, Shelter Homes and Naya Pakistan Housing Project.
“People ask me where is new Pakistan. Let them see emergence of new Pakistan in projects like Ravi riverfront,” the Prime Minister had said.
Taking keen interest in the project, the Prime Minister frequently holds meetings with the officials executing this project as he foresee massive economic activities attached to this project.
Minister for Housing Mian Mahmood ur Rasheed has also described Ravi riverfront as a landmark project in terms of water recharging and environmental protection. “Development of the 46 km long lake will purge the Ravi of domestic and industrial waste and meet water needs of residents of Lahore.”
“Furthermore, the wastewater treatment plants would help treat 2.4 billion liter water to meet needs of Lahorites,” he said.
“The RRFUD project is reflection of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision to build a new Pakistan,” the minister said. “PTI government is fulfilling another promise made to people.”
He said, in the first phase of Ravi Riverfront, a lake covering 46 kilometer area, six wastewater treatment plants, three barrages and urban forest would be developed during first three years.Video Player00:0002:32
Chairman Ravi Urban Development Authority (RUDA), Rashid Aziz said that executing such a mega project is like an adventure and this is a savior adventure for the sake of Lahore.
“Residents of Lahore need water as existing resource is depleting rapidly. Groundwater that is already receded to 50 percent and after three to four years, there would be serious groundwater issues in Lahore,” he said.
He said Lahore is facing serious issues like pollution, smog, water, worn out sewerage system that needed elaborate planning to save the city and Ravi Riverfront project is a matching response to these challenges.
Rashid Aziz said 46-Kilometer River Line will be the biggest waterfront in the world that would provide two billion liters of clean water to Lahore, fulfilling at least 50 percent water demand of the city.
Revival of the river for water recharge, developing its links for water treatment and ensuring water availability for the people in Lahore are the key challenges to make this project a success, he added.
“Executing such a project was too big and tall order to touch. But, you know Imran Khan dares to take on the big and impossible. His determination will make him to achieve this task,” he said.
River Ravi was once a major contributor of underground water recharging but after its water fell to India’s share after Indus Water Treaty, the river turned into a waste water drain. Till then, no substantial project was initiated for its revival as well as recharging of the ground water to facilitate the local residents.Video Player00:0002:25
Lahore Development Authority (LDA) Vice Chairman S.M. Imran said the lake being developed under this project would greatly help recharge the city’s ground-water and avoid the negative impacts of climate change. “We cannot live without water. The water level is going down gradually and we have to conserve it. If we do not move forward now, the city would suffer water scarcity during days ahead.”
He said the city administration was installing water treatment plants, which were the part of River Ravi project and meant to treat the city water and fill the lake connected with the River.
He said the recycled water would also be beneficial for use in the agriculture sector as the lake would revive around 340-KM stretch of the River and support the surrounding areas as well. “Under the project, millions of acres of land will be saved from getting barren.”
He appreciated Prime Minister Imran Khan and said, this project was line with his vision on climate change and it will improve living as well as environmental situation within Lahore and surrounding areas. “When the barrage is completed and retaining walls are constructed, the whole area would come out of flood threats.”
“So in a planned manner and under an organized-structure, a new Ravi City is being developed with all basic facilities and as a proven sustainable business model,” he said.Video Player00:0001:14
Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Vice President Tariq Mahmood Chaudhry said the River Ravi was a viable project and need of the era to maintain the groundwater at good level.
“The development of a 46-kilometer lake at the River site is very crucial to maintain the ground-water level which is already on depletion,” he said. ”Water reserves in Lahore are shrinking and it is matter of short span of time when it would be a water scarce city. This project would help address this dilemma.”
He said everyone knew that our rivers were getting dried and the ground-water level was going down that could be regained by conversion of the dried tributary into lake. “With this, sufficient water will be available for the Lahore city.”
Due to water scarcity, he said, the Water and Sanitation Authority was also planning to install filter plants at the BRB (Bambanwala-Ravi-Bedian) for supplying the clean drinking water to the metropolitan.
People have pinned great hopes in this projects as they foresee a cleaner and beautiful Lahore in days to come wherein they have ample water for use and cleaner air to breathe.