LAHORE - An apparently worried Punjab government has ‘appealed’ the media to be ‘objective and balanced’ while reporting on multi-billion Orange Line project, or simply avoid debating the sub-judice issue.

The Rs45 billion metro train project has been in serious trouble due to a months-long legal war. A contractor was blacklisted over ‘poor quality of construction’, and then there had been protests by the afeetees against the project.

The advice to media was given at an emergency press conference by Malik Ahmad Khan, the special assistant to Punjab CM on information and culture, following publishing of the reports submitted by the experts in the Supreme Court.

The apex court had sought independent experts’ opinion after Nespak in its two reports maintained that there was no threat to the heritage sites in Lahore from the construction.

The press conference was held at directorate general public relation. Two senior government officials, Sibtain Fazal Haleem and Ahad Cheema, were supposed to address the conference but they later changed their mind for unknown reasons and avoided appearing before the media.

After a delay of one hour, Malik Ahmad talked to the journalists and expressed concerns over “the way newspapers and TV channels highlighted the reports presented to the apex court on the project”.

The two technical experts, who were assigned the task to assess the Nespak reports on construction of the Orange Line Project, Thursday submitted completely opposite findings to SC as one supported the Nespak reports while the other found serious flaws in them.

The TYPSA–Asia Consulting Engineering held that the Nespak reports seemed to be very serious and complete from structural point of view.

But, Professor Robin’s report showed that both the Nespak reports have significant flaws in the context of Antiquities Act, 1975 and the Punjab Special Premises (Preservation) Ordinance, 1985. Robin’s report strongly recommended that the flaws be mitigated by the urgent commissioning of comprehensive and credible inter-disciplinary Heritage Impact Assessment.

Malk Ahmad was all praise for TYPSA report and termed it ‘perfect’ opinion since the firm, according to him, has had great expertise in engineering and technical field.

“Prof Robin is mere an archaeologist. His opinion should not be taken as an engineer’s point of view and it has not as much weight as that of the TYPSA’s,” he held, complaining that media only highlighting anti-govt report.

“We respect media and always seek guidance from it but at the same time we expect from journalists to do balance reporting on the sub-judice matters.” Morally, he suggested, media should avoid giving opinion on the matter under courts’ proceedings.