LAHORE - The Punjab government has not ‘completed the process of land acquisition for the $1.6 billion Orange Line dug out the whole city,” a two-judge bench headed remarked yesterday.

Headed by Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh, the court restrained the demolition till the completion of land acquisition process. The bench was hearing a number of petitions challenging land acquisition and demolition of public properties.

The petitioners argued that the government was destroying their properties before the completion of land acquisition process. They said the government officials were issuing them notices and showing haste in destroying their properties and had not been compensated.

The bench was told that the government had carried out lawlessness as lawfulness.

Expressing dismay over the fact, Justice Abid observed that the government itself should follow the law as many petitions were being filed against it.

“How can the government proceed without completing the process of land acquisition under the law,” the bench observed and barred the government from further destruction of the properties and adjourned further hearing for today. The court also sought explanation from the government.

Later, on the main petitions challenging the construction, the bench appointed a local commission to inspect and then report to court about implementation of a stay over 200-feet radius of eleven heritage sites.

Shahid Hamid, the counsel for LDA, told the bench that the court’s orders were being obeyed. He said the government was also paying compensation to the affectees of this project. 50 per cent affectees filed no objection against the project and received their compensation, said the lawyer.

However, the petitioners’ counsel said that the courts’ orders were not being implemented. The destruction of homes and shops were continued, he said. He pleaded the court to constitute a commission to inspect whether the orders of the court were being implemented.

A law officer on behalf of the federal government, however, requested the bench to give more time to file some important documents relating to this project.

The bench had already suspended the NOCs issued for the project and barred the authorities from carrying out any construction within distance of 200-feet of protected immovable antiquity and special premises.

The eleven historical sites in the city where the construction work was stopped include Supreme Court Lahore registry branch, Shalimar Garden, Chauburji, Saint Andrew Church, GPO building, tomb of Mehrunisa, Budhu ka Awa, tomb of Baba Mauj Daria, Shah Cheragh Building, Awan-e-Auqafand and Dai Anga Tomb.

On previous hearing, the federal government also became party in the case and challenged the stay, saying that the foreign funds were being channelised through the centre. He had pleaded the court that the stay order could delay the project which eventually would affect the foreign funding in this regard.

Unesco team briefed about Metro Train Project: A two-member Unesco team visited Lahore in connection with the briefing on construction of Orange Line. The team comprised Junhi Han Program Specialist, WHC UNESCO and Elena Agrini Conservationist WHC Unesco.

A committee of the officials of the Government of the Punjab was constituted to address the concern of Unesco.

The delegation took note of the technical details of the video presentation and also observed that the Government of the Punjab has undertaken the Heritage Impact Assessment as well as various technical research pertaining to the project to see that all necessary precautions for the safety of the world heritage center of Shalimar Garden were ensured, both in planning and execution stage.

With this in view, the delegation highlighted that the Government of the Punjab would submit the results of HIA as well as other relevant details of the project; on the basis of which state of conservation report as well as set of recommendations on the property will be prepared tee to and submitted to the 40th convention of the World Heritage Committee to take place from July 10th to 20th, 2016 in Istanbul. The delegation further highlighted World Heritage Conservation Centre is a strong advocate for sustainable development and the provision of the operational guidelines, in particular paragraph A 2 was elaborated in view of the guiding the state parties to the right direction in a sustainable manner for the project implementation.