LAHORE: A division bench of the Lahore High Court comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Asad Munir, while hearing an inter-court appeal, restrained the Punjab government from carrying out any construction work on the Kalma Chowk flyover project at Kalma Chowk, Ferozepur Road. The bench ordered that any construction work at the site should be carried out with permission of the court. “Presently, the only activities on the site are pile (road drilling) works on the metalled portion of the road. Even if this activity continues, no environmental damage is likely to occur,” the bench said.
An Additional Advocate General Zakaur Rehman on the instructions of the project director said that the government had recently released funds for obtaining an environmental impact assessment of the project from the Environment Protection Authority (EPA). He said that the design and other plans of the project have also been submitted to the EPA for study and assessment. Rehman said the planners had no intention to avoid or violate the requirements of Section 12 of the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act, 1997.
Earlier, a single bench comprising Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry, on March 14, had dismissed an appeal by observing that the court would not stop a project, which benefits majority of people. Now, the petitioners, Lahore Conservation Society, and others filed the appeal challenging the order of the single bench. The petitioner’s counsel, Ahmad Rafay Alam, requested that the order of the single bench should be set aside and the sanction of the project should be declared illegal and in violation of the provisions of the Pakistan Environment Protection Act, 1997, and the Punjab Procurement Rules, 2007. Earlier, Alam had submitted that the summary of the project disclosed that the Punjab Communication and Works Department requested the allocation of Rs 1.2 billion during 2010-11 and engaged the National Engineering Services Pakistan Private Limited (NESPAK) to carry out the engineering design of the project and assigned the execution of the project to the National Logistics Cell (NLC) bypassing the requirements of the procurement rules.
He said that the Punjab chief minister approved the summary of the project on March 5, 2011, one day after conducting the groundbreaking ceremony of the project. The counsel said that after the groundbreaking of the project, contractors engaged by the Communication and Works Department cut down scores of trees and began digging around the project site. He said this project would have an adverse environmental effect on the residents of the area. Alam said that the project was in violation of the provisions of the Pakistan Environment Protection Act (PEPA), 1997 and the Punjab Procurement Rules, 2007.[Daily Times]