ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday allowed the Punjab government to resume construction work on multi-billion Orange Line Metro Train project.
A five-judge bench comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal, Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Maqbool Baqar, Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel had earlier reserved its verdict in the case after hearing arguments of all parties.
The bench set aside the Lahore High Court’s judgment that had suspended construction work on the project near heritage sites in Lahore.
It directed the provincial government to complete the construction of the project on its planned date and form two technical committees to supervise the construction work.
The Punjab government, National Engineering Services Pakistan (Nespak), Punjab Mass Transit Authority, Lahore Development Authority and Civil Society Network had approached the top court against the high court’s Aug 19, 2016 verdict, stopping work on the project within 200 feet of heritage sites.
An architect, Kamil Khan, had petitioned the high court, arguing that the project could cause damage to the national monuments and heritage sites. The construction phase vibration was more of a threat than operation phase vibration since the magnitude of vibration is greater and the distances from the vibration source to the sites is less, he added.
He contended that these heritage sites were of national and international importance since they have been placed on the world heritage list under the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of World Cultural and Heritage 1972.
The heritage sites include: Shalimar Gardens, Gulabi Bagh Gateway, Buddhu ka Awa, Chauburji, Zebunnisa’s Tomb, Lakshmi Building, General Post Office, Aiwan-i-Auqaf, Supreme Court’s Lahore registry building, St Andrews Presbyterian Church on Nabha Road and Baba Mauj Darya Bukhari’s shrine.
On the other hand, the Punjab government and other petitioners argued before the court that the project was being bankrolled by a Chinese bank and if it is not completed within stipulated time, the government would have to incur losses in the shape of cost escalation.