SC clears track for Metro train

The Supreme Court on Friday with a majority of four against one allowed the Orange Line Metro Train project to proceed with 31 conditions and directions.

A five-judge bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, and comprised Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel on April 17th had reserved the judgment.

The NESPAK, the Lahore Development Authority, the Punjab Transit Authority and the Punjab government had filed the appeals against the Lahore High Court’s verdict.

The LHC had set aside the NOC issued by the Archaeology Department and ordered to stop the work.

The apex court set aside the Lahore High Court impugned judgment and allowed the instant appeals.

The apex court unanimously dismissed the Civil Petition No.3101-L of 2016 and refused the leave to appeal.

Justice Maqbool Baqar wrote the dissenting note.

The majority judgment endorsed and approved the NOCs/permission letters issued by the competent authorities and the recommendations of experts relating to execution, mitigation and remedial measures required to be adopted by the executing agency.

Conditions imposed by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court in its judgement imposed the following 31 conditions:

1. The appellant shall make all necessary arrangements to ensure that the monuments remain stable and undamaged in all respects during the execution of the project as specified in the HIA and Study of Control of Vibration, Noise and Foundation.

2. Vibration monitoring shall be undertaken as a part of the monitoring plan using the crack measure devices such as Avongard Standard Tell-Tale throughout the construction period and for an additional period of 10 weeks from the date of commencement of commercial operation of the train or such further time as may be directed by the Director General, Archaeology. In case, it is found that vibration levels at any stage of the construction or operation are exceeding safe limits, construction work/ operation shall immediately be discontinued and remedial action shall be taken to ensure that such levels are brought down to acceptable limits. Such actions may inter-alia include use of one piece of equipment at a time, during the construction phase, adjustment of train speed, addition of buffers and such other remedial and mitigating measures as may be recommended by the experts.

3. Technical experts shall be present at the sites during the construction phase in the vicinity of the antiquities and special premises with all necessary equipment for monitoring vibration levels. In case, vibration levels exceed the acceptable limits, work shall immediately be stopped, remedial measures taken to the satisfaction of experts and further work shall not commence unless written clearance for resumption of work is given by the experts.

4. An independent and experienced conservation engineer shall be appointed to monitor the project, both during the construction and operation phases. He shall submit monthly reports to the advisory committee, which shall make such further recommendations to the director general, archaeology as may be required to ensure that the project as a whole is meeting all technical requirements meant to preserve, protect and conserve the antiquities or protected premises.

5. On completion of the project, the train shall be operated on experimental basis for at least two weeks on the entire length of the route and the vibration levels shall be monitored to ensure that the same are within the acceptable limits. Commercial operation shall not commence unless written clearance is given by the experts confirming that vibration levels have consistently been found to be within acceptable limits.

6. The speed of the train shall be reduced, while passing near the monuments as recommended by the Directorate General of Archaeology from time-to-time on the basis of data made available to it.

7. State-of-the-art vibration-measuring equipments shall permanently be installed at suitable places in and around the antiquities and special premises to monitor levels of vibration created by operation of the train. Records of the same shall be maintained and regularly checked by a responsible officer deputed to do so.

8. Special teams consisting of qualified experts will be set up, which will periodically inspect all antiquities and special premises to detect any damage or deterioration at the sites. Proper records and logbooks shall be maintained for this purpose.

9. Any damage or deterioration shall be reported to the Director General, Archaeology in writing who shall take remedial steps necessary to ensure safety of the buildings and structures.

10. Recommendations of the advisory committee (already set up) shall be placed before the Directorate General of Archaeology, who shall take necessary steps to ensure that the same are complied with in letter and spirit by all concerned agencies, contractors, sub-contractors and operators.

11. Where excavation is necessary it shall be carried out in a way that it would not affect any structure or foundation of the antiquities or special premises. Where necessary special arrangements shall be made to stabilise and strengthen the structure of the antiquities and special premises. All necessary safety arrangements shall be made in accordance with the best engineering expertise during excavation, construction and execution phases of the project.

12. The executing agency shall install accelerometers, velocity transducers, noise detectors and vibration-measuring equipment near the antiquities and special premises. The appellant shall ensure implementation of additional mitigation and remedial measures as mentioned in vibration analysis report by the NESPAK, Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) as well as in the reports submitted by Dr Uppal and Dr Rogers.

13. Excavation would be carried out in a way that would not affect any of the exposed or buried structure of the special premises.

14. In case of any adverse impact to the antiquities or special premises during excavation, construction or execution, the appellant and all other related agencies shall immediately and forthwith stop and discontinue further work, take all possible actions to protect and conserve the antiquities and special premises and in this regard, involve such experts and consultants as may be necessary to ensure that the causes and effects of the adverse impact are effectively removed.

15. A dedicated hotline shall be set up, telephone numbers whereof shall be prominently displayed in public areas around all antiquities and special premises for reporting damage or deterioration observed by members of the public or tourists.

16. In case, any information/report is received by the director general, archaeology the same shall be investigated within seven days and after receiving recommendations (if any) from experts repair/renovation work shall be commenced within 30 days.

17. No building material or equipment shall be stored/stockpiled within protected area of the monuments.

18. No change shall be made in the alignment of the track which brings any part of it nearer to the monuments than the distances set out hereinabove.

19. Dust pollution during construction shall be controlled through extensive sprinkling of water on regular basis and taking such other steps including but not limited to covering the monuments with protective sheets in order to avoid any damage from dust.

20. The design of the viaduct and nearby stations in terms of colour and designing shall be in harmony with the setting and appearance of the monuments.

21. The hydraulic tank of Shalamar Garden shall be restored, as far as possible, to its original position and the surrounding area will be converted into a green area.

22. Structures on the southern side of the Shalamar Garden shall be camouflaged through construction of a wall in consultation with the Directorate General of Archaeology. All practicable efforts shall be made to create a buffer zone around Shalamar Garden as per proposal already pending in the Directorate-General of Archaeology and other competent forums.

23. The decorative motifs of Shalamar Garden should be replicated on the train station near the Shalamar Garden to create harmony with the garden.

24. The tile mosaic motifs of the Gulabi Bagh Gateway should be replicated on the nearby station of the gateway to create harmony with the historic gateway.

25. The area around the Chauburji Gateway should be properly attended and developed into a greenbelt.

26. The decorative motifs of the Chauburji Gateway should be replicated on the nearby station of the Chauburji Gateway to create a harmony with the historic Gateway.

27. The area around the Zaibun Nisa’s Tomb should be properly attended and developed.

28. The decorative motifs of the Zaibun Nisa’s Tomb should be replicated on the nearby station of the Zaibun Nisa’s Tomb to create harmony with the historic building.

29. The respondents shall in consultation with the UNESCO and other international agencies prepare phase-wise plan to control and monitor urban encroachments and the process of creating buffer zone around the Shalamar garden.

30. All future projects which directly, indirectly and incidentally involve antiquities or heritage sites shall in the first instance be widely publicised through print and electronic media at least six months prior to proposed date of commencement of the project and public hearings shall be conducted to hear objections, if any against such project.

31. For all future projects, NOCs, licences, approvals and permissions as required by law shall be obtained before work on the project site is commenced.

SC directions to Punjab government

In addition the apex court directed the Punjab government that within a period of 30 days from the date of this judgment to also take the following steps:

Set up an Antiquity and Special Premises Fund of Rs100 million, which shall be dedicated to monitoring, renovation and reconstruction work of 11 protected and special premises. The fund shall be revolving and shall be replenished on [an] yearly basis. It shall be utilised firstly for the maintenance, preservation, restoration and renovation work of the protected and special premises, subject matter of this list and thereafter on other Antiquities and Special Premises situated in Lahore as may be recommended by the special committee of experts constituted under this judgment.

A broad-based Special Committee of Experts consisting of director-general, Archaeology Department; a professor of the Department of Archaeology, University of the Punjab; head of Department of Structural Engineering, University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore; a senior professor nominated by the chairman of board of directors of National College of Arts; chaired by a retired judge of the top court nominated by the Chief Justice of Pakistan shall be notified, which shall oversee implementation of the judgment of this court and the directions issued herein.

The committee shall also make such further recommendations to the chief minister Punjab to undertake such measures as may be necessary to implement and enforce the directions and recommendations made in this judgment. The tenure of the committee shall be one year from the date of its notification.

The Punjab government shall retain the services of at least three experts having expertise in the field of archaeology and renovation, preservation and maintenance of antiquities and special premises. One of the experts shall be a person having expertise in structural engineering. All three experts will work as a technical committee with tenure of one year.

The technical committee shall report to advise and assist the special committee of experts. The committee shall, if required and with the approval of director general, Archaeology retain services of such other experts as it may consider necessary to undertake its work more effectively regarding the steps required to be taken to monitor the protected and special premises all over Lahore and suggest remedial measures that may be necessary to ensure the safety of all protected and special premises in Lahore.

We also emphasise the fact that the present condition of the protected and special premises calls for major preservation, renovation, reconstruction and repair work. The Punjab government shall take immediate steps and we have been assured by learned advocate general, Punjab that such steps shall immediately be taken to start repair and renovation work for which the requisite funds will be made available within 30 days from the date of this judgment.

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