- Court bars government from construction of project within 200-feet radius of historical sites, buildings
The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday stopped the Punjab government from continuing with construction of the Orange Line train within a radius of 200 feet of any historical sites and buildings.
A two-judge division bench headed by Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh issued a short order on a petition filed by civil society against the Orange Line project, and adjourned the hearing till February 4.
About 11 historical buildings fall in the way of the Orange Line train, including Chauburji, Zebun Nisa’s tomb, Lakshmi building, GPO, Aiwan-e-Auqaf, Supreme Court registry building, Saint Andrew’s Church, Mauj Darya shrine, Shalamar Gardens and Budhu Ka Aawa.
The petitioner’s lawyer Azhar Siddique had submitted that the project was initiated without proper planning. He contended that electricity, water and gas lines were not shifted to proper places and because of non-availability of alternative roads, traffic jams could be witnessed on every road throughout the day.
He argued that the Rs365 billion project was not approved by the Punjab Assembly, adding that the project had put historical sites and monuments of Lahore at stake. It was also pointed out that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) had opposed the project for being a serious threat to environment and over other reasons.
The petitioner asked the court to suspend all processes, including initiation of Orange Line project, demolition, building of any part, as well as allocation and spending of funds pertaining to the project till a decision was handed down.
Punjab government’s lawyer Khawaja Harris maintained that according to the feasibility report prepared in 2014, no historical building, including Shalamar Gardens and Chauburji, would be damaged.
He said the Archaeology Department and NESPAK had no reservations over the project, adding that a meeting headed by the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) chief engineer and chief secretary had issued the No Objection Certificates (NOC) for the project.