LAHORE: The Punjab government seems to be committed about completing the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project at any cost, as it has resumed construction work near the St Andrew’s Church in violation of court orders, Pakistan Today has observed.
St Andrew’s Church is among the 11 historical buildings where Lahore High Court (LHC) in a verdict had ordered to stop construction work. The OLMT project has been controversial on many grounds as its construction has posed difficulty to a large number of dwellers and commuters.
The proposed site for the project was Ali Town to Dera Gujran along the GT Road to the Railway Station, across the city centre via Lakshmi Chowk, McLeod Road and Lake Road to Chauburji, before heading southwest along the Multan Road and Raiwind Road.
Soon after the project started in October 2015, a score of petitions were filed in the court while civil society and environmentalists also showed their serious concerns for this mega project.
On January 28, 2016, LHC rewarded a stay order on a petition of civil society which stated that the Punjab government was violating Antiquity Act 1975. The court in its verdict announced on August 19, ordered the government to stop construction work of the project within 200 feet of eleven historical buildings and ordered to form a review committee to assess the effects of the construction on historical buildings.
These buildings include: Chauburji, Saint Andrew’s Church, GPO building, Tomb of Zeb-un-Nisa, Supreme Court Registry Branch, Aiwan-e-Auqaf, Shalimar Gardens, Budhu ka Awa, Tomb of Baba Mauj Daria, Lakshmi Building, and Shah Chiragh Building. Later the Punjab government had challenged the LHC verdict in Supreme Court which had reserved the verdict and that yet has to be announced.
A survey carried out by Pakistan Today reveals that construction work is being carried out near St Andrew’s Church and Lakshmi Building.
A representative of civil society Maryam Hussain alleged that civil society will lodge a massive protest against this violation. She alleged that the Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has ordered the authority to complete this project at any cost.
Moreover, she said that violations were occurring near Lakshmi Building where digging process has been started.
LDA spokesman Sohail Janjua told Pakistan Today that the recent construction was undergoing not for the OLMT project but for the sewerage drain. He said that drain will start from Haji Camp and will end at Babu Sabu.
Advocate Azhar Siddique while talking to Pakistan Today said that according to law, not a single brick can be moved within 200 feet of the historical buildings. He said that there was no reality behind the stance of LDA that the current construction was being done to construct drain. “The purpose behind this construction was to continue the construction work for OLMT project which is carried out in violation of court orders,” he said and added that this was not the first time when the government has violated court orders; he had brought the matter of violation into the knowledge of concerned authorities but they seem to be committed to violate the court orders, he said.