LAHORE: Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh on Monday stayed felling of trees on Canal Road by the Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) for installation of 132kV transmission line near Jallo Park.

The chief justice warned the authorities of strict action if a single leaf felled on the Canal Road.

He was hearing petitions by civil society member Imrana Tiwana and others challenging felling of trees along the canal near the Jallo Park area by Lesco with the permission of the forest department.

Advocates Ahmad Rafay Alam and Azhar Siddique represented the petitioners.

The counsel told the court that Lesco was undertaking construction of 132kV Ghazi Road project (Fatehgarh High Voltage Transmission Line) and poles had already been installed while some portion of the line had been laid with an outstanding stretch of approximately 2-3km along the canal.

They said the division forest officer on Sept 11, 2019, had carried out an auction of trees to be cut along the canal for installing the remaining transmission line. They said the last date for removal of trees had been fixed up to Feb 6, 2020.

The counsel argued the felling of trees was in violation of Canal Heritage Park Act 2013 while it also violated fundamental rights of the citizens. They pointed out that requisite permission had not been obtained from the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) before holding auction for the removal of trees.

The counsel prayed to the court to declare the impugned auction and the felling of trees along the canal illegal. They urged the court to order the PHA to take initiate legal action against the officials of the forest department, Lesco and other parties involved in laying of high voltage transmission line and cutting the trees along the Lahore canal.

Chief Justice Sheikh stayed the felling of trees and warned the authorities at Lesco and PHA of stern action in case of any negligence. He adjourned the hearing for a date to be fixed by the office and sought written replies from the respondents.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2020