I have not seen the rush of water accumulated at one place in Lahore in my lifetime.
Yes, I am talking about the sinking of Kalma Chowk underpass.
The rain in Lahore is often accompanied by mixed emotions. On one hand, we welcome the relief it brings from scorching temperatures, as it turns the weather pleasant and creates a refreshing atmosphere. However, on the other hand, the ongoing spell of rain has once again highlighted the persisting issue of rainwater accumulation and the crumbling state of our infrastructure.
One of the most disturbing incidents during this recent rainfall was the sinking of the “remodeled” Kalma Chowk Underpass. As the rain poured down, the underpass quickly became submerged, with water levels reaching up to 3-5 feet. At the time of writing this piece late night, the underpass remains closed, causing immense inconvenience to commuters and further exposing the shortcomings of the much-hyped Punjab Central Business District Development Authority (PCBDDA).
The PCBDDA, responsible for completing the Kalma Chowk Remodeling Project, has invested billions of rupees into this venture. However, during the project’s execution, the authority repeatedly requested deadline extensions from the Punjab government. The reasons cited ranged from the need to undertake various works related to underground infrastructure upgrades. This raises questions about the planning and execution of the project.
Imran Ameen, the CEO of PCBDDA, is fond of playing to the gallery rather than providing explanations for the authority’s failure to meet project deadlines. It is alarming that despite major reshuffling in key positions by the current government, Usman Buzdar, Imran Ameen continues to occupy his post. This calls for his removal and a thorough investigation into the matter.
Furthermore, during the construction of the Kalma Chowk Remodeling Project, the PCBDDA encountered significant issues with broken sewer lines, resulting in massive slush underground. This clearly exposes the poor planning and lack of foresight that has plagued the execution of infrastructure projects in Lahore. The CEO, at that time, tried to justify these setbacks by stating that service conduits for sewer lines, phone lines, gas lines, and electricity lines are typically installed along both sides of roads and infrastructure. However, this explanation does little to alleviate the concerns of the public, who continue to face the consequences of ineffective planning and execution.
It is crucial for the government to take immediate action to address the sinking underpass and the systemic failures within the PCBDDA. The welfare and safety of the citizens should always be the top priority, and the current state of affairs demands a comprehensive investigation into the handling of the Kalma Chowk Remodeling Project.
In the late evening, the PCBDDA issued a statement. It states:
Kalma Chowk underpass is a gateway towards CBD Punjab’s main entrance. The authority has taken a leading step to revamp the entire Kalma Chowk underpass for smooth flow of traffic. The Kalma Chowk underpass has been designed with the consultation of all government stakeholders, may it be related to traffic, water and sanitisation, electricity, and others.
The recent heavy rain spell created a havoc situation in the entire city of Lahore, where most of the main arteries have been flooded with rainwater. Kalma Chowk underpass also observed a similar situation. Water & and sewerage channels across the city have blocked water ways, creating large puddles and ponds, which is the main obstruction cause for the water to clear away.
We once again wanted to clarify that we are only responsible for operational activities within the PCBDDA’s domain. For the infrastructural projects we have delivered or are in the pipeline, we can act only as an executing agency.
The rainwater at the said underpass was not just direct rainfall but was also the accumulative water flow of adjoining localities overflowing the Saint Marry’ Park Pond. PCBDDA is working with other stakeholders to clear the underpass from rainwater. Despite the shortage of electricity, 8 water pumps mostly on generators are operational at this moment. It is estimated that traffic flow will be clear by later tonight.
We regret this inconvenience and hope to clear underpass for traffic as soon as possible.
Well, just issuing a statement is not enough; the government must remove the CEO, the last relic of the government of Usman Buzdar.