Islamabad (December 08, 2017): The chief minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif has welcomed the Supreme Court verdict and alleged that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf was the responsible for 22 months delay, 14 months in LHC and than 8 months in SC in Project.
“The Supreme Court and other courts have endorsed our projects, however Imran Khan has wasted nation’s precious time that led to long delay in developing projects, ” CM Punjab claimed while addressing to a press conference in Lahore after the SC decision.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan dismissed the decision of the Lahore High Court (LHC) halting work on selected sites of the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project.
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“The PTI had submitted an application to the Supreme Court. Then, as hidden enemies strike, they did the same in the Lahore High Court. The revenge they have taken is not from me. They have taken revenge from the poor people of the city.”
The chief minister added that the project was to be inaugurated on Dec 25 according to the original plan. When asked when the project would be operational, Shehbaz said he would inform of the date at a later date.
“But PTI and Imran Khan Niazi’s team delayed the project for 22-months.”
He elaborated that the Lahore High Court (LHC) had a stay order on the project for 14 months and the apex court announced its verdict eight months later.Shehbaz added that the PTI did not want the people to benefit from an efficient and cheap mass transit system.
“The project was to run from Dec 25, now, due to the delay we are absolutely out of line.”
Criticising the opposition party further, Shehbaz said they have been unable to even lay a brick for the metro project in Peshawar after a passage of four and a half years.
Punjab’s chief minister further said if the project had been built on time and not subject to delays, it would have lessened thousands of cars on the road and could have led to less severe smog in the provincial capital.”The tickets for the metro project would be reasonable and the price would be set keeping the common man in mind.”
Earlier today, the Supreme Court conditionally allowed Punjab government to proceed with its multi-billion Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project by setting aside a verdict of Lahore High Court halting work on certain section of the OLMT project.A five-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, had reserved its verdict in the case on April 17 this year.
The court announced its verdict on identical petitions filed by the Punjab government, National Engineering Services Pakistan (Nespak), Punjab Mass Transit Authority, Lahore Development Authority and Civil Society Network against the Aug 19, 2016 Lahore High Court judgement suspending construction work on OLMT within 200 feet of 11 heritage sites. The order was issued on a petition filed civil society activist Kamil Khan Mumtaz.
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The larger bench overturned the LHC verdict halting construction works at 11 sites with a majority judgment as a member of the bench Justice Maqbool Baqir wrote a dissenting note.
The verdict was read out by Justice Ejazul Ahsan. Justices Ejaz Afzal Khan headed the bench with Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Maqbool Baqar, Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel as its members.
The apex court ordered the Punjab government to continue the construction of the train and complete the project on its planned date.
Although the apex court has allowed the Punjab government to go ahead with the project at the same speed, the bench has set 31 conditions to ensure the project’s transparency.The conditions include strict monitoring of the construction as well as a dedicated trial period before train operations begin; placement of high-tech devices and hiring of expert monitors to ensure vibrations from the construction don’t damage the heritage sites and various measures for the beautification and restoration of the sites.
The apex court has also ordered the formation of a five-member experts’ committee and three-member technical committee to oversee the project and ensure the protection of the heritage site under question.
A Rs100 million fund will also be established by the government to maintain the heritage sites, according to the court order.The $1.6 billion project was launched in May 2014 by Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, in collaboration with a Chinese company, the project is set to be the country’s first metro line, but it got embroiled in a legal battle in LHC which ordered a stay on several sites as the development was trampling over heritage sites in Lahore.
A single train within the 27-kilometre rail line has the capacity to carry 1,000 people, out of which 200 can be seated while 800 can commute while standing.The project, which was included in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor earlier in the year, is expected to run on electricity and transport up to 250,000 passengers a day.
The capacity is set to be increased to 500,000 passengers by 2025.
The original deadline for the project was December 25, 2017.