A division bench of the Lahore High Court has restrained the provincial government from starting construction of the Kalma Chowk flyover.
They, however, allowed the government to carry on with the piling (road drilling) work.
The bench comprising Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Asad Munir in a written order issued on March 24, made available to the media on Monday, stated that piling work could be allowed because it would not cause any damage to the environment.
The bench barred the government from starting construction till the next hearing on April 6.
The bench was hearing an intra court appeal (ICA) challenging the dismissal of a writ petition against construction of a flyover at Kalma Chowk.
During the March 24 hearing, Additional Advocate General Zakaur Rehman submitted that the department concerned had no intention of violating the Section 12 of the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act 1997.
Rahman said the government had recently released funds for the Environmental Impact Assessment.
He said the design and other plans of the project had already been submitted to the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) for scrutiny. The bench observed that provincial government’s assurance was satisfactory.
Earlier, the petitioners, Lahore Conservation Society and others, through their counsel, Ahmad Rafay Alam, stated that the project was approved and initiated in violation of the Pakistan Environment Protection Act (PEPA) of 1997 and the Punjab Procurement Rules of 2007.
The petitioners said the construction of the flyover would end up in cutting of dozens of plants and trees and would be devastating for the biodiversity of the area.
They said the procedures prescribed by the PEPA required full exercise of precautionary principle as well as public participation, in accordance with the Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.
The petitioners requested the court to set aside the order of the single bench and to declare the project as illegal and in violation of PEPA (1997) and the Punjab Procurement Rules of 2007.
The single bench comprising Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry had on March 14 dismissed the writ petition. The CJ had asked the counsel for the petitioners why he was objecting to a project that would ease traffic and observed that the court could not rule against a project that was to benefit a large section of the population just because a small number would be affected by it.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 29th, 2011.
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