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Orange Line case: High court seeks environment DG’s appearance

Orange Line case: High court seeks environment DG’s appearance

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Tuesday sought personal appearance of the Director General of the Environment Department to answer queries about hazards due to the multi-billion Orange Line Metro Train project.

DG Javed Iqbal was supposed to appear on Tuesday before a division bench seized with several identical petitions against the project but he did not turn up. The bench directed him to appear without fail on Wednesday (today).

Earlier, Advocate Azhar Siddique continued his arguments on behalf of the petitioners and accused the government of not taking safety measures for workers engaged in the construction of the project. He pointed out that two more workers lost their lives when a pillar collapsed at a construction site.

The bench comprising Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh and Justice Shahid Karim observed with surprise the government signed contract with China but engaged local construction companies in the train project. It said had a Chinese company been involved in the construction work, there would have been rare deaths of workers.

The lawyer argued that there were no beds in public hospitals but the government decided to spend over Rs200 billion on a project meant for two percent of the population. Questioning the transparency of the project, the counsel said Nespak was given contract without open tender. He said growing level of pollution in the city had become a serious health hazard to citizens.

Advocate Siddique further said the government blatantly ignored possible environmental pollution and damage to national heritage sites before initiating the project.

In this case, the bench had already stayed construction of the project within 200-foot radius of eleven heritage sites including Shalamar Gardens, Chauburji, GPO building and shrine of Baba Mauj Darya.

However, a local commission comprising Supreme Court Bar Association Secretary Asad Manzoor Butt and Lahore High Court Bar Association’s former secretary Ahmad Qayyum was yet to submit its report about alleged violation of the court’s stay.

Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2016

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