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KARACHI: The Supreme Court directed all the ships carrying imported coal not to unload at Karachi Port Trust (KPT) but at Port Qasim in six weeks at the same rate.

A three-judge bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justices Sajjad Ali Shah and Munib Akhtar in its order also directed the authorities concerned that open coal will not be stored anywhere in Karachi and can only be kept in warehouses.

The court further ruled that in case of transportation, proper blankets and moisture must be provided to the coal so that the dust should not cause pollution.

Asks FIA to conduct probe into encroachment on amenity plot

The bench was hearing a public interest application at the Supreme Court Karachi registry and the main grievance agitated in the plea was that unloading of coal ships and their storage at the KPT was causing coal dust, which was adding to the pollution of an already polluted city and becoming a health hazard for Karachiites.

After hearing KPT and Port Qasim Authority chairmen, importers and lawyers, the court observed that unloading of coal and its transportation from the KPT was undoubtedly a serious hazard to health.

The judges observed they were assured by the officials concerned that appropriate facilities for unloading coal at Port Qasim have been developed and it has the capacity to facilitate the ships for unloading cargo of 65,000 tons.

Obviously, the issue of serious pollution existed at the KPT and at its coal yard, which ultimately affected the entire city and it would stand resolved if the ships carrying coal directly discharged at Port Qasim, they added.

The court said that unloading of coal at Port Qasim will be made at the same rate which was being presently charged by Pakistan International Bulk Terminal.

FIA to submit report on encroachment

The SC on Friday ordered the director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to conduct a probe into illegal encroachment on an amenity plot and submit report within a month.

The chief justice also sought weekly progress report from the FIA and directed Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar to inspect the area in question and demolish the warehouses if found on the premises of amenity plot.

These directives came on a direct complaint seeking action against illegal encroachment on a public park in Al-Habib Cooperative Housing Society in KDA Scheme 33.

The three-judge bench was hearing a set of petitions and suo motu proceedings.

Over a dozen people including women turned up and informed the bench that the secretary, Athar Alam, along with other office-bearers of the society encroached upon the park, illegally converted it into residential plots in 2011 and sold them to the public.

They further contended that Athar Alam and others have also built warehouses on the amenity plot.

The administrator of the society submitted that the amenity plot was encroached upon and unlawfully converted into residential plots, adding that he approached the Anti-Corruption Establishment Sindh in 2016 to take action, but to no avail.

The chief justice directed the mayor to immediately inspect the area in question, demolish the warehouse if found built on amenity plot and submit the compliance report by Sunday.

Stay order against ban on heavy vehicles

The bench extended an interim stay order against the Sindh High Court’s order of banning round-the-clock movement of heavy vehicles in Karachi for a month and directed the SHC to decide the review petition within the same period.

The lawyer for the trustees of Karachi port argued that the complete ban on heavy vehicles in the provincial metropolis was not only affecting the KPT but was also a violation of fundamental rights of transporters.

The SHC had imposed a complete ban on heavy vehicles in March last year.

However, the apex court through an interim order suspended the SHC order and allowed the movement of heavy traffic from 11pm to 6am. Later, a review petition was filed in the SHC.

Meanwhile, the Karachi mayor informed the bench that he submitted an application about non-payment of dues by the KPT to the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation. The court directed the KPT to decide the issue of dues within three months.

Encroachments in Sehwan

The court directed the Sehwan Development Authority (SDA) to launch a coordinated operation against land grabbers and retrieve the remaining state land within six weeks.

A law officer informed the bench that out of 640 acres, the SDA has so far retrieved 300 acres of state land and sought the help of Pakistan Rangers Sindh to recover the remaining land.

The chief justice asked the director general Rangers to extend required support to the SDA.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2018