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LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Friday directed three contractors of the Orange Line Metro Train project to pay rent to the Punjab University for using its playground with a warning of confiscating their machinery in case of default.

Justice Ali Akbar Qureshi was hearing a petition challenging handing over playgrounds of educational institutions to the provincial government for construction of Orange Line Metro Train project.

The judge observed that the court would decide later whether to refer the matter to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for a thorough inquiry.

During the hearing, PU’s counsel told the court that the syndicate had declined to hand over the ground to the previous government but then vice chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran took a decision on his own and allowed utilisation of the ground for the train project.

A chief engineer of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) stated that authority’s then director general Ahad Khan Cheema had signed an agreement with Dr Kamran for the use of the playground.

Expressing his concern over the situation, Justice Qureshi observed that everybody was free to occupy government’s properties with impunity while officials played the role of facilitators instead of protecting the state land.

The judge said he had great respect for Dr Kamran as a teacher but he (latter) crossed all limits to violate law. They both -- Cheema and Kamran -- misused their powers, he added.

Meanwhile, LDA officials told the court the “university ground” near Jain Mandir would be restored to its original condition within 20 days. Representatives of contractors/construction companies, including ZKB, Grace and Habib Construction, assured the court of paying rent against utilisation of the ground.

The judge will resume hearing on Sept 10.

Hearing another case, Justice Qureshi directed the city police to make immediate arrest if traders encroached upon the government land again on The Mall and around Data Darbar shrine. He observed that the encroachers did not deserve any concession.

The judge also directed the city district government to impose fine on the people throwing litter on The Mall and around the shrine.

Further hearing was adjourned for Monday.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2018