Neither non-development nor damaging of heritage desirable: SC

Islamabad

The Supreme Court Justice Sheikh Azmat Saed on Friday remarked that court neither desired the non-development of the city, nor damaging of heritage. The remarks were passed when a five-member bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan heard Punjab Government appeal against LHC decision in connection with the Orange Line Train project.
The bench also sought expert opinion and comments from LDA, NASPAK and Punjab Government in response with arguments placed by the opponents till next date of hearing.
Heritage expert, Kamil Khan Mumtaz argued that 200-feet surrounding area of the heritage was declared buffering/trembling area that’s why trail project might damage the heritage.
Justice Azmat Saeed remarked that there were many examples in the world that trains go through buildings and cities. ‘There should be a way to tackle trembling of the trains, instead of stopping development projects’ he added.
‘If we accept your point of view, then many buildings have to be demolished and bulldozed to save the heritage, like Soviet Union which bulldozed every thing. Gave us practical solutions instead of such theories,’ Justice added.
Justice Ejaz Afzal inquired the expert whether view of Shalimar was not damaged due to many buildings constructed in surroundings of the heritage, then why this issue was being raised in a development project.
Counsel for the NASPAK assured the court that if the historical building would be damaged due to Orange Line Train Project, operation of trains will be stopped according to NOC.
Subsequently, the bench sought expert opinion to tackle with the trembling from concerned professionals and adjourned the case till April 17.
On previous hearing Shahid Hamid, counsel for the Punjab government, apprised the Bench that Rs. 100 million had been reserved for the protection of heritage sites in the surroundings of Orange Line Train project.
Work on Chauburji Chowk in that regard had already started, he added. Asma Jahangir, counsel for a litigant, expressed her reservations that the raised track would impair the visibility of heritage sites and there was also possibility that vibration caused by the running train might damage them.
She said Lahore had hardly been included in international list of the cities, having heritage sites and the train project might put that status at risk.
Justice Ejaz remarked that there might be another aspect that people could see heritage sites while traveling in the train like ‘Aawa’, the historical place of Buddhism, was hidden from common eye, which would be easily seen after the construction of the project.
It may be mentioned that the Lahore High Court on August 19, 2016 had barred provincial authorities from carrying out construction work within 200-feet radius of around 11 heritage sites, including Shalimar Gardens, Gulabi Bagh Gateway, Chauburji, Buddhu ka Awa, Zebunnisa’s Tomb, Lakshmi Building, General Post Office, Aiwan e Auqaf, SC Lahore registry building, St Andrews Presbyterian Church on Nabha Road and Baba Mauj Darya Bukhari’s Shrine.—APP

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