LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Thursday observed that apparently the Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project (RRUDP) was for the benefit of land developers.
Hearing a set of petitions against the project, Justice Shahid Karim further observed that the conversion of agricultural land into the housing project was unjustified as the country was already vulnerable to food insecurity.
The judge regretted that no arrangements had been made by the Punjab government to allocate alternative land for agricultural purposes.
The court observed that the government must learn from the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Act, 2013 passed by the Indian parliament.
Judge regrets no alternative land for agriculture specified
Earlier, the counsel for the Ravi Urban Development Authority (Ruda) submitted an amended reply in the matter.
The judge found gross irregularities in the project and observed that the master plan was approved by the Ruda in December 2020 whereas the land acquisition notification was issued prior to it on Oct 6, 2020.
The judge noted that as to how the master plan issued by the LDA in 2016 for Lahore did not contain specific details of the riverfront project.
A government’s law officer told the court that the master plan approved by the LDA in 2016 was later adopted by the Ruda in 2020.
Justice Karim observed that there was no mention of a new city near river Ravi in the master plan of the LDA as the plan was of the entire city.
The judge also took cognisance of the fact from a reply of the forest department that the project would result in felling of the trees as well for the housing buildings.
The judge adjourned the hearing for further arguments on Oct 12.
CONTEMPT: Justice Shahid Karim issued notices to chief secretary Kamran Afzal, deputy commissioner Umar Sher Chatha and Lahore Waste Management Company’s chairman Amjad Ali Awan on a contempt of court petition.
Representing the petitioner, Advocate Sheraz Zaka argued that the court on Sept 14 directed the respondents to clean the city from heaps of garbage and waste.
However, he said the respondents failed to comply with the order and committed contempt of the court.
He asked the court to initiate contempt proceedings against the respondents.
TRAFFIC: Justice Shahid Karim on Thursday summoned officials of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the city traffic police for Friday (today) to explain blockade of roads due to cricket matches in Gaddafi Stadium.
The judge observed that the free movement of the citizens could not be blocked due to cricket matches.
On behalf of a petitioner, Advocate Zaka argued that citizens had been adversely affected and traffic blockages will further exacerbate pollution levels especially air pollution.
The judge observed that the cricket matches could not take place in such a deplorable manner in the city at the expense of curtailing the rights of people.
Published in Dawn, October 8th, 2021