LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Tuesday suspended the operation of Lahore’s Master Plan 2050.
Hearing a petition against the plan, Justice Shahid Karim observed that the random and aimless development projects of the government had made breathing difficult for citizens. “These projects pose a threat to the economy of the country,” the judge observed.
Advocate Shahzad Shaukat, the counsel for the petitioner, submitted before the court that the approval of the Master Plan 2050 by the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) was clearly a managed affair and designed to extend undue benefits to the land mafia and property developers. The LDA failed to consider the devastating impact it was likely to have on the already deteriorated environment of Lahore, he contended.
He further stated that the Master Plan, which was to define how Lahore division would look like in the coming years, had actually left the people of the city at the whims of land developers. He pointed out that the plan envisaged reduction in the green area despite Lahore’s depleting air quality index (AQI). He said the AQI of Lahore deteriorated to an average of 10.7 per cent each year, causing all kinds of pulmonary diseases among its population and burdening the health facilities.
Advocate Shaukat argued that the impugned plan was a classic example of urbanization, which would block any effective response to calamities, especially floods, and human life would be at risk. He said the provincial government attempted to validate the Ravi Urban Development Authority (Ruda) illegally and gave it a legal status despite a 2021 judgement of the LHC against the authority.
He further asked the court to set aside the Master Plan and restrain the respondents, including Ruda, from dispossessing the petitioners from the land in question.
Justice Karim suspended the implementation of the Master Plan 2050 and sought replies from the respondents within two weeks.
Sugar mills’ NOC case: The Lahore High Court on Tuesday expressed displeasure over the Punjab
Excise and Taxation Department for not complying with an earlier order for issuing a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to Ramzan Sugar Mills, owned by the sons of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, to resume its functioning.
Representing a petition of the mills’ management, Advocate Salman Aslam Butt told the court that the department had not issued an NOC to the petitioner despite a court direction passed on Dec 9 last.
Earlier, the E&T director general appeared before the court, who was admonished by Justice Shahid Karim for his late appearance.
“If judges can come in the morning, why can’t you?” the judge asked the DG and directed him to ensure compliance of the order within two days.
The mills, through its secretary, had filed a writ petition against the department for not issuing it the NOC.
The mills, through its counsel, submitted that the E&T department delayed the certificate on political grounds at the behest of the provincial government.
The counsel pointed out that at least 12 NOCs had been given to the mills in the past. He said the deputy commissioner concerned issued the NOC but the department was delaying the same.
The counsel said the crushing season was about to start and the mills would face a huge financial loss if the NOC was not issued without further delay.
Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2023
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