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Full Version: LDA stopped from starting new development schemes
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A Lahore High Court (LHC) full bench on Friday declared the Rs1.5 billion Signal- free Corridor project illegal and stopped the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) from starting any such new development project.

The bench, headed by Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, announced a short order on identical petitions moved by Fahad Malik, Kamil Khan Mumtaz, Faryal Ali Gohar, IA Rehman, Imrana Tiwana and others. The petitioners had challenged the LDA’s authority to carry out such development projects and questioned legality of the corridor project from Qurtaba Chowk on Jail Road to Liberty Roundabout on Gulberg’s Main Boulevard.

The court said the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) director general had approved the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project on March 19 without lawful authority. It said the authorities had started work on the project in violation of Section 12 of Punjab Environmental Protection Act, 1997, which states that an EIA report is a prerequisite for such public works.

The court observed that the corridor could only be built after getting approval of the local government. “The project, if at all, can only be initiated after seeking permission/approval from the concerned elected local government system, as and when it is formed.”

The bench said the constitutional mandate of an elected local government system – recognised as third tier of the government under Article 140A of the Constitution – could not be diluted or encroached upon.

“As a consequence thereof, powers and functions of the LDA shall always remain subject to Article 140A and the Punjab Local Government Act, 2013,” the court said.

The court said the LDA would only attend to its ongoing projects until local government elections, scheduled for September 2015, were held. It said the authority might continue its day-to-day works such as repair and maintenance “but shall not embark upon any new project which encroaches upon the powers of an elected local government system under the Punjab Local Government Act, 2013”.

The court observed that the short order did not limit the scope of the “main judgement” that it said might discuss other aspects of the case and include directions and orders not reflected in the current verdict.

The petitioners had said that the project was not environment-friendly and that it did not provide for pedestrians and people with disabilities. They had said that the LDA was encroaching on powers of the local governments by initiating such development projects.

The LDA had awarded the contract for the project in the first week of February. Ground work on an underpass at Fowara Chowk (where Jail Road meets Gulberg’s Main Boulevard) had started on February 26.

Khwaja Haris Ahmed, counsel for the LDA, had told the court that the planned corridor was a “public welfare” project. He said the petitioners’ claim that the project was hazardous for environment was incorrect as the EPA had given a green signal to the project.

He had said that the project was a policy matter related to the government and the court should not interfere in it.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th, 2015.
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