KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday warned the provincial and city authorities of stern action if they failed to ensure “within one week” shifting of oil tankers from Shireen Jinnah Colony to the Zulfikarabad oil terminal.

While giving the direction for the umpteenth time, the three-judge bench also directed the chief secretary to convene a meeting of all stakeholders, including representatives of the oil tankers’ operators, at 11am on Friday to chalk out a strategy to make the ZOT functional and equipped with all facilities.

The bench headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed and also comprising Justices Maqbool Baqar and Sajjad Ali Shah was seized with the hearing of an application of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation administrator seeking court’s direction to the Rangers and police to ensure shifting of oil tankers to the oil terminal as the tanker operators had been resisting their shifting from Shireen Jinnah Colony to the terminal.

Removal of encroachments from Gutter Baghicha, parks ordered

The KMC application was tagged with a petition filed by Shagufta Bibi, a resident of Clifton Block 1, who had initially asked the then Chief Justice of Pakistan in 2012 to order the shifting of the oil tankers from her neighbourhood. The woman had written a letter to the then CJP who converted it into a petition.

The bench directed the authorities concerned to ensure installation of fire extinguishers and provision of an emergency exit at the oil terminal to prevent any eventuality.

The judges also ordered the respondent oil companies to give their respective share for the funds for infrastructural facilities at the oil terminal.

The bench directed the senior member of the board of revenue to allot 50 acres within a week for establishing a terminal in District West to cater to the oil tankers coming from Balochistan.

During the hearing, the bench also directed the municipal commissioner to remove encroachments from Gutter Baghicha and all other parks in the city within a week and file a compliance report in this regard.

The municipal commissioner filed a report and informed the bench that he had visited the ZOT on the orders of the court and noticed the terminal lacked required facilities.

After going through the report, Justice Gulzar Ahmed remarked that it was said that a PMT (pole-mounted transmitter) installed at the terminal had been stolen. “Who is responsible for the security of the terminal and how was the PMT stolen?” he said.

The municipal commissioner further informed the bench that the power supply to the oil terminal had been disconnected for non-payment of dues.

He said that a piece of boundary wall also collapsed and there were several puddles at the oil terminal following the recent rain in the city.

The bench directed the municipal commissioner to file a progress report on Friday.

Advocate General Zamir Ghumro asked the court to grant the authorities a month, instead of a week, to make the oil terminal completely functional.

However, the bench rejected his request and observed that the matter had been pending disposal in court for a long time.

The bench put off the hearing to July 13.

The petitioner had complained that heavy oil tankers were parked on both sides of the main road in Clifton Block 1 and its surrounding area. Besides, she said a number of auto workshops had been opened in the locality, making the lives of residents miserable. She submitted that the oil tanker operators had encroached upon streets in Block 1 and its adjoining areas, causing environmental hazards and affecting residents’ privacy, as families could not move about freely. She added that oil tankers were being parked in the residential parts of the colony causing hardship to the people.

In his application, the KMC administrator had stated that the Zulfikarabad oil terminal was fully operational, but the oil tanker owners and operators were not ready to shift to the new terminal, spread over 150 acres. He sought court directions to the law enforcement agencies to assist the city administration in shifting the oil tankers away from Shireen Jinnah Colony.

During the past three years, the apex court has time and again directed the authorities and the oil tanker owners and operators to remove their vehicles immediately from Shireen Jinnah Colony, a neighbourhood in Clifton, but to no avail.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2017

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