Lahore: The building of a wall alongside the greenbelt next to the iconic city canal at Punjab University New Campus has alarmed locals. This development violates the 2013 Canal Heritage Park Act and blocks the gorgeous vista of the city’s only waterway.
Civil society vehemently disagrees with this “mindless act” and denounces the government’s contempt for the environment. The irrigation agency started building the wall due to recent high rains that overflowed the Lahore’s canal. Because Canal Road is Lahore’s longest and main signal-free artery connecting various parts of the city.
According to critics, it is ludicrous that the authorities are eroding the canal’s architecture by building walls along both sides to prevent overflow. The Canal Heritage Park Act-2013 protects the canal’s protected design, but Lahore Conservation Society head Ajaz Anwar disputes whether or not the government has the power to interfere. He claims an upcoming protest demonstration against this absurd civil work will be planned.
Civil Society’s Concerns
According to Anwar, a renowned painter of the city’s history, the canal is the only source of natural beauty in Lahore. The Lahore’s canal is home to many trees, greenbelts, water channels and is a natural habitat for birds and other wildlife. It originates from the BRB Canal and runs parallel to the link canal road via the main canal. The public can frequently be seen strolling, playing, and swimming along its banks. It adds to Lahore’s environment and is a source of natural beauty.
Anwar criticises the government for erecting a wall that will impair the picturesque view of the canal. He further asserts that the canal’s small overflow harmed neither the neighbouring homes nor the road infrastructure. He thinks the government has planned this building to benefit a person close to them and waste tax dollars.
Raheem Ul Haq, a member of civil society, emphasises that the government must immediately address the significant problem of the wall being built along the canal banks. He contends that the canal is a valuable material and immaterial legacy source and should be preserved. Therefore, it is necessary to stop the wall building right now.
Another member of the civil society, Jawaid Ahmad, emphasises that since the canal has been designated as a protected heritage site, building the wall not only obstructs the view but also disturbs the natural habitat of creatures like birds. He continues by saying that the construction is unlawful and was not approved by the advisory group monitoring such activities.
Canal Heritage Act
According to the Canal Heritage Act, the Lahore Canal and the greenbelts on either side are a public trust and vital to the city’s history. The statute aims to uphold a healthy environment, protect the flora and fauna, and offer visitors recreational amenities. It creates an advisory board to manage and oversee implementation, collect money, and start awareness initiatives.
In addition, the law lists jail time and fines as consequences for breaking its rules. Before taking legal action, offences require written reports from authorised government official0s or authorities. Despite my best efforts, I could not reach the Lahore irrigation executive engineer for comment.