LAHORE - A master plan of Lahore Development Authority to develop new housing societies will bring reduction in ground water level of the Lahore division, flooding in identified areas, and concentration of wastewater at Ravi River, an official report says.

LDA’s Metropolitan Planning Wing and Strategic Policy Unit is tasked to complete the “Master Plan Amended for Lahore Division” in four districts - Lahore, Kasur, Sheikhupura and Nankana Sahb - by year 2035.

Field surveys show there are 1.2 million people living in the area stretching up to 62689.74 acres. 135 villages/towns have been identified, out of which 16 fall in Lahore District; 17 in Tehsil Muridkey, Ferozewala and Sheikhupura of Sheikhupura District; 9 in District Nanakana Sahib; and remaining 91 in District Kasur.

The project site is surrounded by the India in east, Gujranwala in the north, Faisalabad in the west and Sahiwal and Pakpattan in the south. It is accessible through all major roads like Grand Trunk Road, Ring Road Multan Road, Ferozepur Road, Lahore-Sheikhupura Road and Motorway-M2.

However, an Environmental Impact Assessment report says the ground water level is declining in Lahore and the depletion rate of groundwater for the district is about 2.5 to 3.0 feet per year, which is alarming.

The report further states: “…a significant part of the land has become impermeable. The existence of saline groundwater in the nearby areas of Raiwind and Kasur, in the south of Lahore, is a potential threat to the aquifer under the Lahore city.”

Another environmental impact on the population of the nearby areas is concentration of waste water into River Ravi. Currently the entire wastewater from Lahore District is collected through a network of 14 main drains and discharged into the river without any treatment.

The wastewater from Nankana, Shiekhpura and part of Kasur districts are also discharged into the river. The waste water from southern part of Kasur district is discharged into River Sutlej. This untreated wastewater contains category of industrial, commercial and residential wastewater. Due to non-availability of freshwater in River Ravi, the river is converted into sewage.

The EIA report highlights the potential increase in pollution level and quantities of wastewater, which may have direct negative impact on our surface water resource, and indirectly on agriculture, ground water and human health.

Also there are high chances of flood hazard, as the project sites include two rivers, Ravi and Sutlej, and number of canals and drains.

The settlements include Bhai Pheru, Bucheki, Mandi Faizabad, Mor Khunda, and Syed Wala can subjected to flooding. The settlement Ferozwala is under potential threat of flooding due to Deg Nallah. The settlement Muredke is under potential threat of flooding due to Nikki Deg Drain.

Also the assessment report underlines the possibility of aesthetic problems and odour besides spread of many other diseases if collection of solid waste produced from Lahore division was not managed properly.

Even as the project is likely to have several negative impacts, the EIA report balances all the ‘pessimism’ about development with several positive impacts of the LDA’s master plan that includes sustainable use of available natural resources and improvement in infrastructure and utility services, health care, education, water supply and sewerage facilities.

The report concludes that the project is environmentally feasible at proposed site only if the mitigation measures suggested are adopted during planning, construction and operational stages.

“The loss of biodiversity can be minimised by developing green infrastructure in the project area,” the report adds.

For which, the LDA through a notification has made it obligatory to get to first get an NOC for the property developers/sponsors in the flood prone areas, identified in the project area.