LAHORE: Justice M Sohail Bhatti of Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday sought detailed comments from the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) and the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) on a petition challenging the construction of a parking plaza on the Doongi Ground in Gulberg.
The judge directed the respondents to file their replies in seven days and adjourned the hearing till April 13.
A public interest litigation organisation, Muhammad and Ahmad, had filed the petition against the construction of the plaza, claiming it was being done without fulfilling the legal requirements and carrying out an environment impact assessment.
Petitioner’s counsel Muhammad Azhar Siddique stated that the government had earlier tried to convert the ground into a theatre. “On September 16, 2011, a full bench of the LHC had declared the construction of an IMAX theater on the ground illegal and ordered to restore it,” he said.
He said that the full bench had allowed the government to construct an underground parking plaza. “However, it is being done without fulfilling the legal requirements. The court order to restore the ground has not been implemented as well,” he said.
Siddique said that a separate contempt petition had been moved against the officials. He said that the plaza was constructed without getting the approval and without intimating the residents of the area, including the petitioner.
“The petitioner was not contacted before the commencement of the construction of the parking plaza at the site. The feasibility report of the construction has not been considered by the respondents,” he said.
Siddique submitted that the respondents had also disregarded the importance of the environment impact assessment of the project. “They did not obtain any no-objection certificate (NOC) from the environment department regarding the construction of parking plaza,” he said.
“LHC’s June 20, 2011 judgment was very clear in its terms. It proves that a park was converted for extraneous purposes and as such the Disposal of Land by Development Authorities Act, 1988 stands violated. The relevant authorities were under obligation to take action in this regard which they did not. The entire building has to be removed. The residents of the area and people of Lahore should be allowed to use the land as a playground,” he said.
Siddique requested the court to declare the construction on the ground illegal and in violation of the fundamental rights.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 3rd, 2015.
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