LHC asks govt to submit complete record of Orange Line Metro Train project | Pakistan Today

LHC asks govt to submit complete record of Orange Line Metro Train project

Lahore High Court (LHC) asked Punjab government on Tuesday to provide all record of Orange Line Metro Train project before the court Wednesday (today).

A division bench of the LHC headed by Justice Shahid Karim and Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh passed these remarks during the hearing of the OMT case.

The counsel of civil society Azhar Siddique told the court that Punjab government lied regarding the actual facts of the OMT project. He argued that initially Punjab Metro Bus Authority was the executing agency and later on August 25, Lahore Development Authority (LDA) was made executing agency which showed mala fide intention of the government.

He said that Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report issued by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the proponent LDA for OMT project was based on fake information. He further argued that EIA report was illegal as the LDA became executing agency on August 25.

Siddique told the court that the government awarded contract to Chinese company CR-NORINCO by violating merit and transparency as no tendering process for appointing NESPAK took place. He argued that PC1 of the project was approved without including acquisition and displacement cost. ECNEC approved it on May 8, 2015 but intentionally for contract purposes on April 20, 2015, dollar.1.457 billion was mentioned and in mala fides, August 25, it was revised to dollar 1.626 billion, he said.

He said that in view of clause 7 of April 20th contract, the agreement can only be effective after signing of the loan agreement and loan agreement with Axim Bank was signed on Jan 2016 at high mark up and without competition.

Siddique stated that government had been saying that OMT was the part the CPEC but later it changed the stance.

The EIA report from EPA was defective as department was short of staff and equipment and the private laboratory which prepared baseline profile of OMT was not certified by EPA. He told the bench that in view of clause 11 of the decision of EPA, project cannot be started without obtaining NOC but the project was started in July, 2015 while Archeology Department issued NOCs on Nov 14 and Nov 30, 2015 and the acquisition of land was finalised on Jan 16 2016 which shows all work done by the Punjab government was illegal, he argued.

Siddique further stated that Punjab government intentionally the then DG Archeology Department Saleem Javed as he mentioned in his report that OMT project will damage the historical buildings and heritage of the city.

He requested the court to summon complete record of the project.

After hearing arguments, Justice Shahid Kareem observed that loan agreements and any commitment with China will not take precedence over public rights. The court asked the Punjab government’s lawyer to submit complete record of the project on the next hearing. Later the hearing was adjourned till Wednesday.

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