ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that the Lahore High Court (LHC) had rejected experts’ reports about the Lahore Orange Line project without plausible explanation, thus restraining the construction work.
A five-member SC bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal observed this while taking up appeals of NESPAK, the Lahore Development Authority (LDA), the Punjab Transit Authority and the Punjab government against the LHC verdict.
On August 19, 2016, the LHC restrained work, on the under-construction rapid transit line in Lahore, within 200 feet radius of five heritage buildings and five special premises.
The LHC had also set aside NOCs issued by the Director General Archaeology Department and the Chief Secretary’s committee under Antiquities Act 1975 and Special Premises Ordinance 1985.
The SC bench observed that prima facie, the reasons given in the LHC judgment seemed to be unacceptable as there was a contradiction in them. “The apex court would examine whether the project would endanger monuments,” Justice Afzal said.
The judge said that the railway train may cause much vibration but the buildings constructed in the 18th century near railway stations were still intact. He said that international standard should be observed (while carrying out work on the project).
Five historical sites — Shalimar Garden, Gulabi Bagh Gateway, Buddha’s Tomb, Chauburji and Zebunnisa Tomb — and five special premises —Lakshmi Building, General Post Office, Aiwan-e-Auqaf (Shah Chiragh) building, Supreme Court Registry building and Mauj Darya Darbar and a mosque — are stated to be at risk from the $1.47 billion project awarded to a Chinese company, CR-Norinco.
LDA lawyer Khawaja Haris told the court that if any damage was done to historical buildings in the future, the Punjab Mass Transit Authority would repair them.