LAHORE, Sept 16: The Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) on Friday started cutting trees to facilitate widening of 14-kilometre parallel roads along the Lahore Branch Canal from Thoker Niaz Beg to Dharampura after the Supreme Court gave the authorities concerned a conditional ‘go-ahead’ on Thursday.

Officials told Dawn that after the Supreme Court allowed the provincial government to undertake the project by causing minimum damage to the greenbelt, the PHA resumed work on the Lahore Canal Bank Road Remodelling Project by starting cutting trees to pave the way for future constructions.

“The PHA authorities have started cutting trees along the Canal Bank Road’s stretch from FC College and The Mall underpasses. Thereafter, trees would be cut in the portion between Doctors Hospital and Campus underpasses,” Israr Saeed, who is chief engineer of Traffic Engineering and Planning Agency (Tepa) of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA), told this reporter.

He said the Punjab government had initially tasked TEPA with carrying out this project but it recently appointed the communication and works (C&W) department as project’s main executing agency and TEPA and PHA of the LDA and other departments would assist the C&W department in this regard. He said the authorities concerned were finalising project cost afresh as it might have increased from initial estimates due to passage of inordinate time.

Mr. Saeed said the Punjab government planned widening the 28-km twin roads from Thokar Niaz Beg to Jallo Park and the 14-km project was being undertaken as its first phase.

He said the PHA was initially assigned to remove around 1,200 trees from Doctors Hospital to The Mall underpasses stretch.

He said the departments concerned would try to cause minimum damage to the greenbelt while executing the project.

He said the cutting of required number of trees was not an easy task and it would take some time to complete. “We will play our role in assisting the C&W department in completing this important project,” he added.