Delay in making Zulfikarabad oil terminal operational invites SC’s wrath

Published May 18, 2021
CHIEF Justice Gulzar Ahmed of the Supreme Court speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony of SC’s new registry building at Pakistan Secretariat in Karachi on Monday.—APP
CHIEF Justice Gulzar Ahmed of the Supreme Court speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony of SC’s new registry building at Pakistan Secretariat in Karachi on Monday.—APP

KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Monday expressed resentment with the provincial and local authorities for delay in making the Zulfikarabad oil terminal operational and directed the Sindh chief secretary to make it fully functional.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed also asked all stakeholders including Karachi commissioner and administrator and project director of the oil terminal to attend a meeting with the chief secretary on May 18 (today).

The bench, also comprising Justice Maqbool Baqar and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, directed the chief secretary to provide 50 acres to the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation for parking of Balochistan oil tankers since the land earlier given for this purpose seemed to be disputed.

When the bench took up the matter for hearing, it was informed that the Zulfikarabad oil terminal (ZOT) had been established on 200 acres of land and there was a parking facility of around 1,300 oil tankers, but the oil marketing companies (OMCs) had yet to complete their facility of petroleum products delivery from the terminal.

CJP Gulzar Ahmed performs groundbreaking of new SC registry building in Karachi

The lawyer for OMCs submitted that June 2021 was the timeline for all the OMCs to start delivery of oil from the ZOT so that there was no need for oil tankers to enter the roads of provincial metropolis.

The bench directed him to ensure that the OMCs must meet the timeline for delivery of oil at the terminal.

The bench was further informed that there were also issue of shops established on the premises of ZOT as 146 persons had deposited development charges of Rs34,000 for each shop and around 120 structures of shops had been erected while there was a provision of 1,494 shops and the same would be rented out by the KMC.

However, it was told that the construction work on shops had been stopped because of some irritants between the shop owners association and the project director ZOT; besides there were some other issues about parking of tankers of edible oil, water and trucks.

At this, the chief justice came down hard on the provincial and local administration and said that despite several orders and lapse of many years, the ZOT could not be made functional and warned that they were going to summon the chief minister.

However, the advocate general Sindh requested the bench to summon the chief secretary instead of the CM.

Subsequently, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Ali Shah appeared in court and submitted that the provincial government had provided funds to the KMC, but there were some issues of oil tanker owners.

He requested for two weeks to ensure that all matters about ZOT were discussed with all the stakeholders and addressed in order to make the terminal fully functional.

The bench was informed that the first meeting in this regard was to be held on Tuesday (today) and it directed all the stakeholders to attend it.

The court also asked the chief secretary to ensure that the ZOT become fully functional and the oil tankers were not allowed to park outside the terminal and they were not permitted to enter the city’s roads once the terminal was made functional.

The bench said that since 50 acres handed over to the KMC by the provincial government for parking of oil tankers of Balochistan seemed to be disputed land, the chief secretary must ensure that the apex court’s order issued in June 2018 be fully implemented regarding 50 acres of land for parking of oil tankers.

This matter was pending before the apex court since 2007 as initially a resident of Shireen Jinnah Colony, a neighbourhood in Clifton, had sent a letter to the then CJP to order the shifting of the oil tankers from the residential area and later several identical applications were filed.

The apex court, during the past several years, had time and again directed the authorities and the oil tanker owners and operators to remove their vehicles immediately from Shireen Jinnah Colony and other areas of the city and shift to the terminal.

New registry building of SC

Later in the day, CJP Gulzar Ahmed laid the foundation stone of the proposed new Supreme Court Registry building at Pakistan Secretariat.

The project of the proposed two-storey building in the provincial capital is likely to be completed in three years.

It may be recalled that then CJP Main Saqib Nisar had also laid the foundation stone of the proposed building in December 2018, but the construction work could not be started till date.

A chief engineer of the federal public works department had said that 6.89 acres had been acquired for the proposed building at the Pakistan Secretariat after demolishing a number of barracks, which had housed customs courts, banking courts and federal services tribunals.

The two-storey building with a basement will have six courtrooms, judges’ chambers, conference rooms and spaces for the Supreme Court Bar Association, public and a mosque, he said and added that the basement will have the parking capacity of over 500 vehicles.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2021

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