LAHORE: Chief Justice Ijazul Ahsan of the Lahore High Court has separated all petitions challenging construction of Orange Line project and coal power projects from the larger bench.

A two- judge bench headed by Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh and comprising Justice Shahid Karim will resume hearing of the petitions filed against Orange line on Thursday.

On Monday, both judges who are heading the division bench now had refused to be part of the full bench constituted to hear petitions challenging Orange train and Coal power projects as part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

A very important case pertaining to the construction of Orange train project has hit snags due to constitution and reconstitution of the benches while the masses are continuously suffering from the traffic mess and environmental pollution due to the project.

Division bench headed by Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh was hearing the case continuously for about 6 months. The flow broke away when the country’s top law officer appeared before another division bench headed by Justice Muhammad Khalid Mehmood Khan and sought to club together all petitions challenging Coal Power Projects and Orange Line—as part of the CPEC.

Attorney General of Pakistan Salman Butt had completed his arguments on an application challenging stay order on the project, the counsel of the civil society Advocate Azhar Siddique had also completed his arguments and now Advocate General Punjab Shakil-ur-Rehman has to argue on the case.  Though, Advocate Khwaja Haris, who was hired by the Punjab government to defend the project, had completed his arguments but later withdrew his power of attorney.

On January 28, the LHC stayed construction of $1.6 billion Orange Line Project within 200 feet of 11 historical sites of the city falling in  the route of the project. The places where further work has been disallowed  are  near Lakashmi building, Shalamar Garden, GPO Chowk, Aiwan-i-Auqaf, Shah Charagh building, Supreme Court registry, Saint Andrew Church, Baba Mauj Darya’s shrine, Ghulabi Bagh, Bhudhu ka Awa, Chauburji and tomb of Zeb-un-Nisa.

The members of the civil society, different religious groups and lawyers had challenged the project saying that it would destroy the cultural landscape and would damage the historical sites of the city including GPO, Shalamar Garden, Chauburji, ancient churches and historical buildings. The petitioners prayed to the court to order the government to stop construction of the project in a way it could destroy the beauty and historical building of the city.