LAHORE: A Lahore High Court division bench on Tuesday directed the Punjab government to apprise it of the steps taken for protection of the workers engaged in the construction of Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project.

As the bench resumed hearing of the petitions against the project, Advocate Azhar Siddique argued that at least 20 labourers had died so far at different project construction sites.

He said no precautionary measures with regard to the labour had been taken either by the provincial government, Punjab Mass Transit Authority, Lahore Development Authority (LDA), Environment Protection Authority (EPA) or contractors of the project.

The lawyer said at least eight-hour long loadshedding had been observed in the Mayo Hospital, Lahore, due to the project construction work that also caused death of a patient due to non-functionality of ventilator.

He further stated the government had been denying that the project was a part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). However, he said, the government’s lawyers during the course of hearing on Jan 21, 2016 stated the Orange Line train project was a part of CPEC.

He said Wikipedia (an online encyclopedia) also published details about the train project, confirming it to be the first line of the Lahore Metro, which was country’s first mass rapid transit train system. He said the encyclopedia said the 27-km metro train was expected to cost $1.65 billion out of which $650 million would come from federal government of Pakistan, while the rest through soft loans by the government of China as a part of the CPEC through the Export-Import Bank of China.

The lawyer said the project in any case could not be termed a part of CPEC and prima facie on the basis of manipulations the federal and provincial governments had included it in the economic corridor.

He asked the court to declare that the OLMT could not be a part of CPEC due to the sensitivity and economic viability. The division bench comprising Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh and Justice Shahid Karim sought the government’s reply on the arguments of the petitioners and adjourned hearing till May 30.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2016

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