SC appoints panel of experts for Lahore train project ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday appointed a two-man commission of experts for re-verification of the environmental assessment reports on the Rs45 billion Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project of Lahore.
The commission will comprise Messrs TYPSA-Asian Consulting Engineers (Pvt) Ltd and Prof Robin Coningham, an expert on archaeology.
A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali ordered the constitution of the commission after receiving suggestions from both the petitioners and respondents containing names of three international consultants each having technical expertise in the issues involved.
Commission given 30 days to re-verify relevant environmental assessment reports
The court had taken up four separate but identical petitions moved by the Punjab government, Lahore Development Authority, Punjab Mass Transit Authority and National Engineering Services Pakistan (Nespak), filed against the Aug 19 judgement of the Lahore High Court for suspension of construction work within 200 feet of 11 heritage sites in the provincial capital. The high court had issued the order on a petition filed by a civil society activist, Kamil Khan Mumtaz.
The heritage sites involved are the Shalamar Garden, Gulabi Bagh Gateway, Buddhu ka Awa, Chauburji, Zebunnisa’s Tomb, Lakshmi Building, General Post Office, Aiwan-i-Auqaf, Supreme Court’s Lahore registry, St Andrews Presbyterian Church and Baba Mauj Darya Bukhari’s Shrine.
The commission appointed on Friday will assess the credibility of the reports of Nespak of July 2015 and February 2016, which were relied upon by the Punjab government in the context of the Antiquities Act, 1975 and the Punjab Special Premises (Preservation) Ordinance, 1985.
The fee of the members of the commission would be settled and paid by the provincial government, the order said.
“We expect that the technical experts so appointed will expedite the proceedings of re-verification of the reports and will submit their report within a month,” the court said, also directing the court office to re-list the appeals after the expiry of 30 days.
Earlier, the petitioners and the respondents proposed three names of international consultants from each side. The names proposed were Messrs Osmani and Company (Pvt) Ltd, EA Consulting (Pvt) Ltd, Wardell Armstrong Archaeology and Moore Archaeological Environmental Services.
The Punjab government had pleaded before the apex court through its petition that Lahore being the second largest urban centre in Pakistan, and having an estimated population of more than 10 million, routinely suffered from extreme traffic congestion, long commute times, high air pollution, deadly traffic accidents and an inadequate public transport system.
The city’s existing roads and flyovers cannot adequately handle congestion or transportation overload in the absence of mass transit systems that could cater for mobility needs of the public, according to the petition.
Apparently perturbed over the playing up by media of an observation that Chief Justice Jamali was quoted as making during the hearing in the same case on Thursday, the Supreme Court explained that what he had observed was that the people should carefully assess the situation and prudently use their right to vote while electing their representatives.
Referring to remarks attributed to the chief justice that the people should stand up against the rulers, the court office said the news item in question gave the impression as if the chief justice was inciting the people against the rulers of Pakistan.
Therefore, the said news item was totally false, baseless and misleading.
“The media should exercise caution instead of creating sensationalism through their reporting in the media which distort the actual facts,” the Supreme Court said.