On Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation stone on the Walton Airport site for the ambitious Central Business District (CBD) project, claiming that the project would help generate much-needed wealth to pay off foreign loans that had accumulated over the past ‘dark decade.’
“It is a ‘out-of-the-box’ initiative to create wealth, overcome fiscal and current account deficits and maintain the economy of the country,” Mr. Khan said at the foundation stone-laying ceremony while speaking. “It is past time to increase the country’s income while reducing expenditures in order to get out of the fiscal and current account quagmire,” he said.
The prime minister said an economic hub would be established as many high-rises would be developed along the Gulberg Main Boulevard and Ferozepur Route, announcing that the Walton Airport would be de-notified soon. Mr Khan stated that in the first phase alone, Rs1,300 billion would be produced, with the federal government receiving Rs250 billion in tax revenue.
Both the CBD and Ravi City schemes, according to the prime minister, will help monitor Lahore’s unplanned development and the vertical construction of buildings will fulfill the city’s accommodation needs. He said that cities like Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad had grown out of reach, making it difficult to provide civic amenities to all.
The Prime Minister said that a much-needed Rs6,000 billion would be created by moving Walton Airport from the center of the city. He, on the other hand, expressed his dissatisfaction with the lack of enthusiasm displayed by the provincial ministers and lawmakers present, stating that they did not even acknowledge the presence of such a huge project to generate wealth. Later, as the prime minister narrated his government’s accomplishments, the venue began to resound with applause.
According to him, the initiative would help generate much-needed wealth to pay off international debts.
Regretting that the previous government had left the PTI government with an all-time high $20 billion deficit, he said these two megaprojects would push inflows of dollars and even Pakistanis living abroad would be interested in investing in them.
Addressing the fears of environmentalists and members of civil society that trees will be cut down to give way to concrete structures, the prime minister said that he himself was an environmentalist as he initiated a globally recognised initiative to plant one billion trees in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
In addition to the city’s tree cover, the Prime Minister said that by ensuring sustainable energy conservation, the CBD and Ravi City will be created.
The Prime Minister said the Naya Pakistan Housing Project would help purchase flats for salaried and low-income classes. He added that banks were also interested in providing small loans to low-income groups so that they could realize their dreams of owning a house. He thanked Chief Minister Usman Buzdar for the record-breaking execution of the Naya Pakistan Housing Project.
The prime minister informed the audience that the government had signed a revised contract with Qatar for LNG procurement, which would save the country $300 million per year over the previous government’s contract.
Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, speaking on the occasion, said the Lahore Central Business District will be completed over an area of 300 acres in three stages. He said that over an area of 128 acres, the first stage will be built. “The first stage will be followed in the next phase by a digital and residential district.”
Subsequently, the Prime Minister held a one-to-one meeting with the Chief Minister, addressing progress on different development projects and the political situation in the province.
The Lahore flying club, meanwhile, has already pressed the Lahore High Court against the government’s move.
A petition filed by Lahore Flying Club President Makhdoom Syed Ahmad Mahmud claimed that on Feb 4, in violation of the law to suddenly shut down the club’s activities, the government enacted the Lahore Central Business District Development Authority Ordinance, 2021. On Tuesday, the court will take up the case.