ISLAMABAD -   The Supreme Court was informed on Monday that alternation in the Orange Line Metro Train Project at this stage would cost a lot to the provincial government.

Shahid Hamid, counsel for NESPAK, said that redesigned or re-alignment in the project though technically possible, but would be very costly.

Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed said if you would stick to this then the project would be in danger. He said: “They are in favour of the mass transit, but there should be no violation of law.” The judge said if the government wanted to have metro train then don’t endanger the heritage.

Shahid Hamid said not a single building has been damaged. However, Justice Azmat asked him not to say this because other side has different version on it.

A five-member bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal, heard NESPAK, Lahore Development Authority, Punjab Transit Authority and the Punjab government appeals against Lahore High Court verdict.

The Lahore High Court on 19-08-2016 had restrained all work within 200 feet of the five heritage buildings and the five special premises. It had also set aside the NOCs issued by the DG Archaeology and Chief Secretary’s Committee under Antiquities Act 1975 and Special Premises Ordinance 1985.

Azhar Siddique, representing the civil society group, informed that the federal government is not giving visa to UNESCO experts. He said they applied for visa in January, which was refused and now again the UNESCO experts intend to come in April.

Shahid Hamid informed that the environment assessment study was done and its report had been submitted in the Supreme Court, Registry in Lahore. Justice Azmat observed that in Pakistan we don’t trust the institutions, while in India they trust their institutions. He said if the angles sit in the institution even then we would not trust the institution.

The Metro Train project film was shown in the courtroom. Justice Ijaz asked from Shahid Hamid is this computer simulation or the real movie. The lawyer said it had been taken it from drone.

Shahid Hamid informed that at the site of Chuburji Chowk the curve is given, adding if more curve is given then track would enter into densely populated areas. Justice Azmat said those nations who preserve their past have future. The monuments need to be preserved, he added.

The apex court on 13th October, 2016 had constituted a two-member commission of technical experts comprising TYPSA – Asia Consulting Engineers (Pvt) Ltd and Professor Robin Cuningham, UNESCO Professor in Department of Archaeology, University of Durham, UK. The commission was directed to re-verify credibility of NESPAK reports of July 2015 and February 2016 in context Antiquities Act, 1975 and Punjab Special Premises (Preservation) Ordinance, 1985.

Their reports are conflicting as the findings of TYPSA – Consulting Engineering are that the NESPAK reports seem to be very serious and complete from structural point of view. However, the Prof Robin report is that both NESPAK reports have significant failings and oversights in the context of Antiquities Act, 1975 and the Punjab Special Premises (Preservation) Ordinance, 1985.

The five historical sites – Shalimar Garden, Gulabi Bagh Gateway, Buddhu’s Tomb, Chauburji and Zebunnisa Tomb, are at risk from the $1.47 billion project, awarded to Chinese company CR-Norinco. In additional to these sites, five special premises are also at risk include Lakshmi Building, General Post Office, Aiwan-e-Auqak (Shah Chiragh) Building, Supreme Court Registry building, and Mauj Darya Darbar and Mosque.

The hearing is adjourned until today.