KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Thursday directed the secretary for transport, the commissioner and the mayor of Karachi as well as the general manager of the National Highways Authority to appear before it on Nov 15 in a petition about the deteriorating traffic situation in the provincial metropolis.
The two-judge bench of the SHC headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar also directed the NHA to file a report by next hearing regarding directions issued previously to make the Lyari Expressway fit for heavy vehicles.
At the outset, the lawyer for the petitioners pointed out that the route map, earlier filed by the traffic DIG, was not being implemented in letter and spirit. Whereas an office-bearer of the transporters’ body informed the bench that land had already been earmarked by the provincial authorities for bus and truck terminals, but the provincial government had yet to establish the proposed terminals to reduce the traffic load in the city.
The focal person for the transport secretary, Yar Mohammad, claimed that both terminals had been established and made functional. However, the counsel for the petitioners and a representative of transporters’ body denied the same.
Mining firm restrained from coal extraction till next hearing
The bench observed that its earlier order reflected that the NHA was impleaded in this matter with some directions to make the link road and Lyari Expressway fit for heavy vehicles, but it failed to file a report and directed the lawyer for the NHA to come up with the report at the next hearing.
The bench also summoned the transport secretary, the Karachi commissioner, the city mayor and the NHA GM to appear in person on Nov 15 to provide assistance to the court.
The lawyer for the petitioners also sought time to file an order of the Supreme Court carrying directions for the local administration to make the Zulfikarabad oil terminal fully functional.
In a previous hearing, the traffic DIG through a report informed the bench that 88,278 heavy vehicles were fined for the violation of traffic rules, 2,747 such vehicles were fined for the violation of time restriction, 122 cases were registered and 3,941 vehicles detained from April 2017 to September 2018.
Faisal Bangali and others had moved the SHC against the relevant authorities over the worsening situation of traffic in Karachi and sought rerouting of heavy vehicles through non-residential areas as well as improvement in public transport.
They asked the court to issue directives for the authorities to improve public transport and introduce other alternatives to help commuters and reduce the burden on the existing transport. The court was further asked to order the authorities to strictly conduct fitness tests of vehicles running on city roads.
The SHC had imposed a ban on the movement of heavy vehicles in the city during daytime in March last year. However, the apex court set aside the order in May 2017 and observed that the SHC order was against a 2007 verdict of the apex court.
Permit for exploration of coal
The Sindh Lakhra Coal Mining Company assured the same bench on Thursday that they would not start extraction and exploration of coal till next hearing after the permit awarded for the exploration of coal was challenged.
The petitioner contended that the permit was awarded to the Sindh Lakhra Coal Mining Company for the exploration of coal over 1,818 acres in Jamshoro through a notification issued in July.
The petitioner further submitted that a permit was issued without inviting any bid and during the tenure of the caretaker government in Sindh and sought restraining order against handing over the possession of land to the respondent for exploration/extraction till next date.
However, the lawyer for the respondents argued that there was no illegality in awarding the mining permit and the summary was floated during the tenure of the elected government.
The lawyer contended that the possession of the land had not been handed over to them yet. However, the lawyer and the chief executive officer of the mining firm assured the bench that they would not start extraction and exploration till Nov 22.
Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2018