KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) sought on Tuesday a reply from the National Highway Authority (NHA) chairperson regarding the deadline for completion of the remaining portion of the Lyari Expressway project.
A two-judge bench, headed by Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, was hearing an application filed on behalf of the Sindh government seeking review of the court's previous order to open both the tracks of the expressway for the public by January 1.
The court had, on December 6, 2017, ordered the authorities concerned to ensure completion of both the tracks of the Lyari Expressway - a project hitting snags for the last 14 years - by December 21, 2017. It had further ordered them to ensure that the project was opened for the public by January 1, 2018.
"In case of failure, a stern action, as permissible under the law, will be taken against those found responsible for the delay and non-implementation of this order within the stipulated time," the judges had warned.
The bench had passed these directives on a petition filed by the affectees of the Lyari Expressway project, seeking direction for the authorities concerned to compensate them against the acquisition of their lands for the project.
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The Lyari Expressway project was launched in 2003.
On Tuesday, Sindh Advocate-General Barrister Zamir Ghumro moved an application on behalf of the Sindh government, pleading to the court to review its earlier order.
He informed the court that the NHA was working on the project, therefore, the provincial government could not give any definite date for its completion.
The bench issued notice to the NHA chairperson giving him three weeks to file reply.
The petitioners, Bilal Haroon and five others, had cited the federal finance secretary, provincial chief secretary, Karachi commissioner and Lyari Expressway rehabilitation project director as respondents.
The petitioners informed the court that the federal government had acquired their land located in Shershah and Sohrab Goth localities in 2006 for the project against assurance of monetary compensation. They claimed that they did not receive the promised compensation despite approaching the authorities several times, adding that the Rs20,000 per square yard was the compensation amount promised by the government.
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Their lawyer, Shoukat Ali Shaikh, had argued that the plots of the petitioners acquired for the Lyari Expressway measured between 1,000 and 2,100 square yards. He claimed that the federal finance ministry had released the compensation amount in 2014 to the provincial finance department, however, then provincial finance secretary made payments to the contractors for the construction work but ignored the petitioners.
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