LHC suspends work on Orange Line train project

Published: January 28, 2016
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Lahore High Court issues short order to discontinue construction at sites falling within 200 feet of historical sites. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Lahore High Court issues short order to discontinue construction at sites falling within 200 feet of historical sites. PHOTO: EXPRESS

LAHORE: 

A division bench of Lahore High Court issued a stay order on Thursday against the construction work for the Orange Line metro train project within 200 feet of historical buildings along its route.

Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh and Justice Shahid Karim issued the order on a petition moved by several activists before they adjourned hearing till February 4.

As many as 11 historical buildings along the route have been identified in the petition. These include Chauburji, St Andrew’s Church, the GPO building, the Supreme Court Lahore Registry, Shalimar Gardens, the tomb of Mehrunnisa, Budhu ka Awa, the tomb of Darya and the Shah Cheragh building.

The petitioners’ counsel told the court that the government had initiated work on the project in September last year. He said it had signed a contract with a Chinese bank in January this year for additional funds.

He said the government was wasting public money.

The court asked Khawaja Harris, the counsel for the government, about the steps the government had taken to preserve historical buildings along the route.

The court asked if the government had sought clearance from the departments before launching the project. Harris was unable to satisfy the court on these counts.

Counsel for the petitioners told the court that the government had transferred a director general of the Archaeology Department to ensure approval for the project. He said so far 26 people had died due to the project.

He said the project lacked proper planning. He said before construction was launched, electricity, water and gas lines had not been shifted to the proper places. He said the government had also failed to issue a traffic management plan.

He said there were no alternative routes and thousands of people suffered in traffic jams due to the construction. He said often ambulances remained stuck traffic jams for hours.

The counsel said that the Rs365 billion project had been not approved by the Punjab Assembly.

They said the project had put Lahore’s architectural heritage at risk.

He said the government was diverting funds allocated for other sectors like education and health for the metro train project.

They pointed out that the UNESCO also opposed the project for being a serious threat to the heritage sites.

The petitioners asked the court to suspend the construction work on of the Orange Line metro train and stay demolitions and allocation of funds under the project until a final decision was made in this regard.

Reader Comments (5)

  • jojo
    Jan 28, 2016 - 11:52PM

    How could PML N stop this, they think that this is a gimmick which will win them 2018 elections as Metro did for them in 2013 because Pakistani public likes to be fooled again and again even though there is no progress on education, health, corruption, nepotism, institution building, Police reforms..Recommend

  • ahmad azhar
    Jan 29, 2016 - 12:48AM

    the project costs 160 billion, not 365 billionRecommend

  • Malik Saab
    Jan 29, 2016 - 12:55AM

    Shame on PTI as their lawteam got this stay order. PTI is anti development and Pro taliban party. PMLN never make any problems in projects in KP but the any party that is in power in KP always try hard to stop any worthwhile project in Punjab. Recommend

  • pakis92
    Jan 29, 2016 - 6:13AM

    It is sad to see that construction work has been stopped, it will surely cause unemployment for those working on it….have the Lahore high court ever thought about it? No and never the court judges can never thought about it…..Pakistan lacks good transport authority just like the department of transportation working in different states of USA. A project should be evaluated in all respects, over here in Pakistan the project is evaluated in the minds of MNA and MPA. Consider the expansion of Islamabad expressway expansion, it is preferred over the much needed rawalpindi bypass. 26 people have died and the media is following none of them, they should be followed it will definitely turn into a big news.Recommend

  • Jan 29, 2016 - 10:55PM

    Again this will be big lose for Pakistani’s, please let them keep working and complete this project and this will be good for all of us. Recommend

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