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Korangi Crossing flyover project launched without Sepa’s approval

Korangi Crossing flyover project launched without Sepa’s approval

KARACHI: The Korangi Crossing flyover whose ground-breaking was recently performed by the chief minister has been launched without approval of the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) and consultation with stakeholders, it emerged on Saturday.

Speaking to Dawn, representatives of institutions situated in the area regretted that though the flyover’s construction would directly affect their businesses and services, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) executing the project hadn’t consulted them over the project.

“The hospital administration is shocked to see that not only the ground-breaking ceremony has been performed in haste but construction equipment has also been placed at the site indicating that work on the project will start any time soon,” said Ashar Lodi, a traffic engineer associated with the Indus Hospital as consultant.

He added that the hospital administration wasn’t against the flyover but actually perturbed over the fact that the stakeholders had been kept in the dark about project details.

He said: “The heavily congested area needs some kind of project that could reduce traffic pressure at the Korangi Crossing. But a major development activity lacking input from stakeholders may aggravate public inconvenience instead of alleviating it.”

According to Mr Lodi, KMC officials in a meeting held at Commissioner House a month ago had assured representatives of the hospital that project details would be shared with them and their concerns would be addressed.

“But there has been no consultation on the project, which is said to have been developed on the basis of decade-old traffic data. At that time, many establishments including the Indus Hospital that we see now in the locality did not exist,” he explained.

The flyover’s construction, he contended, was bound to affect the movement of ambulances and people visiting the free-of-charge health facility every day.

“Besides, the hospital is in the process of implementing a major expansion plan that explains why the hospital administration is more concerned over this development,” he said.

Other stakeholders raised similar concerns and appeared apprehensive over the way the KMC handled the project. “There had been some controversy regarding what ought to be built at the site; an underpass or flyover. Whatever the government planned to build should be developed after consultation with experts and the stakeholders. It should be ensured that minimum inconvenience is caused to the people,” said an official of a private school functioning in the locality.

No Sepa approval

Sources said the project violated clause one of Part-VI of Sindh Environmental Protection Act, 2014, which states, “No proponent of a project shall commence construction or operation unless he has filed with the agency an initial environmental examination (IEE) or environmental impact assessment (EIA), and has obtained from the agency approval in respect thereof.”

Sepa director general Naeem Ahmed Mughal confirmed to Dawn that the KMC was yet to submit the report covering environmental aspects of the project.

“Though there is a difference between actual execution of the project and its ground-breaking ceremony, we will write to the KMC to get the environmental examination of the project done and send its report for approval,” he said.

The flyover is not the only project launched without the Sepa approval, as there were at least two federal government projects — a coal-based power plant to be built in the Port Qasim area and twin nuclear power plants — whose ground-breaking ceremonies had been performed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif before their EIA reports were approved.

KMC works and services director general Niaz Soomro, however, insisted that the environmental examination required under the law had already been done.

About the stakeholders, he said: “They are very much on board. We have shared project maps with the administration of Indus Hospital that will give its feedback on Monday.

“There is a possibility of slight adjustments in the project once we get their response but there won’t be any major change in its design,” he said in reply to a question.

When contacted, a representative of the company approached by the KMC to carry out an IEE of the project told Dawn that the KMC was yet to submit project details required to carry out the IEE of the project.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2015

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