ISLAMABAD: PPP lawmakers have submitted a call-attention notice in the National Assembly Secretariat, challenging what they dubbed a serious threat to national and cultural heritage sites in Lahore due to the Punjab government’s $1.6 billion Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project.

MNAs from the main opposition party also raised concern over the “lack of transparency” in awarding of the project contract.

The party’s MNAs, Imran Laghari, Aijaz Jakhrani, Dr Nafisa Shah, Syed Ghulam Mustafa Shah and Nawab Ali Wassan, submitted the notice under rule 88 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in National Assembly 2007.

“This action of the provincial government is in violation of many international and local laws and also against the will of people of Pakistan. The government must not forget that preservation of culture and heritage is one of the people’s fundamental rights and no government can be allowed to trifle with it,” the notice read. Talking to Dawn, MNA Laghari said his party believed the Punjab government had not only committed gross violations of the rules in awarding the contract, but had also put national and cultural heritage sites under threat.

He claimed the OLMT project was awarded on April 20 last year at a cost of $1.46bn, but the cost was increased to $1.6bn in August. Mr Laghari claimed that there was no international investment involved and the entire project was being financed by the Bank of Punjab, and that a 20 per cent advance payment had already been made to the contractor.

At least 11 historic buildings, including Chauburji, St Andrew’s Church, the GPO building, the Supreme Court Lahore Registry, Shalimar Gardens and the tomb of Mehrunnisa, lie on the path of the proposed OLMT, “It is our right to raise our voice in parliament to save our Mughal heritage,” the MNA said.

Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2016

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