LAHORE - The Lahore High Court yesterday disposed of a writ petition challenging the construction of Sahiwal Coal Power Plant after the government gave assured of abiding by environmental laws.

Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh of the LHC passed the order on a petition filed by PTI leader Zubair Khan Niazi. A law officer Shan Gul appeared before the court on behalf of the Punjab government.

The law officer gave an undertaking that the pollution charge rules would be strictly complied with as the sulphur dioxide emissions out of the coal power plant would result in rising pollution levels.

The judge expressed satisfaction on assurance by the government that the Punjab Environmental Protection Agency would perform its statutory obligations and would be functioning autonomously and would follow the pollution charge rules 2001 with respect to the functioning of the coal power plant . The judge also remarked that the court could not interfere into policy matters of the government. It was only supposed to see whether the development projects had been accomplished in a transparent and fair manner or not, the judge said and disposed of the petition.

Zubair Khan Niazi through his counsel had contended that the construction of the coal power plant had been commenced without compliance with National Environmental Quality Standards and pollution charge (Industry Calculation) rules 2001.

The counsel told the judge that there was no doubt that the country at present was facing energy shortage and the need of the hour required that power projects should not be curtailed if the government gave adequate assurances with respect to ecological conservation and compliance of the regime with the environmental laws.

The government adopted expensive means to provide electricity to the public rather than deploying cheaper means to produce the electricity.

He prayed the court to set aside the project for being threatening to the environment and safety of the local people.