ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court of Pakistan Monday directed the authorities to remove petrol pumps established on green belts in Faisalabad.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed conducted hearing of a review petition filed by two petrol pumps over their lease extension.

During the hearing, Advocate Qalb-e-Hassan informed the bench that National Highway Authority (NHA) had leased out the State land for setting up petrol pumps. One petrol station is on a greenbelt and another was set up on the park in Faisalabad. Additional Advocate-General Punjab informed that they have taken control of the two pumps.

Justice Qazi Ameen said that the NHA is not above the law. He added, “Let some rights of the people of this country intact,” He also said that the NHA was not given land for doing business. He further said the joke with the State land must be stopped.

Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed questioned that how can the NHA lease out the land to anyone if it does not even own it. He further asked, are there any more petrol pumps on greenbelts? He said that the State land was given on Rs30,000 annual rent. “It seems as if the Punjab government is working with the owners,” he remarked.

The counsel for the NHA said that the Authority owned 220 feet land around the road. 

Justice Ijaz observed that the land was given to NHA for construction, repairing and extension of a road. He said they could not allow to lease out state land at a throwaway price, adding that the petrol stations on green belts need to be removed. If this practice is not halted then all the gardens will be given on lease for commercial purpose.

The court has summoned the Faisalabad commissioner in the case and instructed the Punjab government to submit a report in four weeks.

The bench on the last hearing had sought lease details of the petrol pumps established on state land around the G.T. Road and the land allotted to petrol pumps, hotels and restaurants and had summoned the NHA chairman in person.