KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday once again directed the authorities concerned to pay compensation to the people affected by the Lyari Expressway project after verifying their computerised national identity cards by the National Database and Registration Authority.
Headed by Justice Muhammed Ali Mazhar, a two-judge bench was hearing the petitions of people who had surrendered their residential properties for the completion of the Lyari Expressway project on the assurance that they would be compensated for the properties.
Expressing displeasure over the lethargic attitude of the authorities concerned in this regard, Justice Mazhar observed that dead people could not come to claim their compensation, but at least the living ones should be compensated for their properties.
Officials given 10 days to get ID cards of affected people verified by Nadra
The court directed the authorities concerned to get all the affected people verified from Nadra within 10 days and compensate them at the earliest.
According to the petitioners, represented by Advocate Shaukat Shaikh, the government had acquired their houses on route of the project and assured them that they would be compensated.
The affected residents of the project stated that they evacuated their houses and gave them for the project’s completion but the said amount was not being paid by the authorities concerned even after the passage of several years.
The affected petitioner asked the court to direct the relevant authorities to pay compensation to all the affected people.
Non-compliance of SHC directives
The authorities have failed to complied with the SHC’s earlier order that directed the authorities concerned to complete the Lyari Expressway’s work by 2017 as the authorities failed to complete the work.
Earlier, on Dec 9, the SHC had expressed extreme displeasure over the provincial authorities for their failure to complete the work on the multi-billion project and warned that strict action would be taken against the relevant officials if they failed to complete the project by Dec 31. The court had ruled that the project should be open to the public by Jan 1, 2018.
Later, the National Highway Authority had told a Senate standing committee that the project could not be completed on the deadline given by the SHC (Dec 31). In fact, it had given another deadline for its completion. The Senate standing committee was told that the Lyari Expressway’s remaining work would be completed by Jan 5.
The project that was initially estimated to be completed in 2003 at a cost of Rs3 billion was now costing around Rs23bn.
The affected persons’ lawyer said that despite the multi-billion-rupee expenditure in the last 15 years, the Lyari Expressway project could not be completed mainly because of negligence of the authority.
The SHC had expressed extreme annoyance over the authorities concerned, including the National Highway Authority, while hearing a constitutional petition seeking compensatory funds for the families shifted owing to work on the mega project.
The court had remarked that if the project was not completed expeditiously enough, the matter might be referred to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to investigate the high cost of the project.
The lawyer representing the petitioners said that people’s properties were acquired for the project, but they were not duly compensated and were facing a great deal of hardship. He said the cost of the project might have been met so far if the project had been completed in the stipulated time.
The court was asked to direct the respondent authorities to expedite the completion work on the project and immediately pay compensation to the affected people.
Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2018