ISLAMABAD - Directing authorities to protect heritage buildings, the Supreme Court has said that it will not allow the Orange Line at the cost of national heritages and historical monuments.

A five-member SC bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal, issued directives while taking up appeals of Nespak, the Lahore Development Authority (LDA), Punjab Transit Authority and the Punjab government against the Lahore High Court (LHC) verdict on Thursday.

On August 19, 2016, the LHC restrained all work within 200 feet radius of five heritage buildings and five special premises.

Justice Sheikh Azmat observed that the authorities concerned instead of making claims in papers, should concentrate on adopting practical measures and ensure the protection of the national heritage.

The judge also order authorities to monitor the steps taken for preserving these buildings and averred that a team of independent persons should monitor the project and whatever flaws identified by them should be resolved at the earliest.

Justice Ejaz said they would examine the objections raised by the parties on the experts’ reports as they were not engineers and technical experts. He questioned whether the technical experts visited the site and conducted soil tests or they did everything on the computer.

The judge asked if any finding in the TYPSA report about absorption of vibration. If needed, he added the court would summon the technical experts for a briefing.

During the hearing, the metro train project film was played in the courtroom and LDA counsel Khawaja Haris completed his arguments.

Haris said that the TYPSA was asked to analyse the Nespak report. He said that the soil tests have already been carried out and the experts have analysed those test reports.

Justice Ejaz asked whether the LHC expressed dissatisfaction over Dr Apel’s report. Haris replied that the high court dismissed his report without examining it.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan said that prima facie it seemed that the high court did not examine Dr Apel’s report.

The LDA counsel said that “Chinese Zia Model” has been adapted for absorption of the quivering. Justice Azmat said that Chinese Zia Model should not be considered General Ziaul Haq.

The Advocate General of Punjab said that there would be no damage to the historical and religious buildings due to metro train project. Justice Azmat said that the metro train was the need of the hour, but it should not be constructed at the cost of heritage buildings and monuments.

Asma Jehangir, who is representing civil society, said that they had knocked the Supreme Court door for the next generations. She said that the Punjab government had made tall claims to preserve the heritage. However, Justice Azmat said that the provincial government had stated that if there would be any damage to the historical buildings they would construct new buildings.

Azhar Siddique, who is also representing the civil society, contended that on the one side there was government machinery and on the other, lots of lawyers were defending the metro project. The hearing was adjourned till April 10.