LAHORE, May 3: The Punjab government on Tuesday informed the Lahore High Court (LHC) that Rs42 million had been transferred to the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) for installation of 150 filtration plants on tubewells in the city.

Additional advocate-general Muhammad Hanif Khatana appeared before chief justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry, who was hearing a suo motu and writ petition questioning presence of arsenic in water supplied by Wasa, and filed a report on behalf of Wasa managing-director, showing that 150 filtration plants had been imported from China for installation in each union council of Lahore to ensure supply of arsenic-free water to citizens.

The report said that in a meeting held on April 28, the district coordination officer had required that funds be transferred to Wasa within a week.

The Wasa counsel placed on record a pre-qualification notice issued to contractors published in an Urdu daily on May 1. The counsel said some time would be required to import equipment of filtration plants if the same was not available in local market. The chief justice directed Wasa authorities to complete the process expeditiously and also sought audit report of the Rs200 million funds given to the agency for cleaning of city drains.

The petitioners also filed their rejoinders to replies filed by Wasa and the court adjourned hearing of the case till May 25.

Former LHC chief justice Khwaja Muhammad Sharif had taken suo motu notice while advocates Mateenul Haq and Muhammad Sohail Dar had filed writ petitions pointing out that poisonous drinking water was causing hepatitis and other diseases.

The suo motu notice was taken on a news item, which stated that environment protection department had revealed that tubewells of Wasa were supplying water contaminated with arsenic, posing serious health hazard to citizens.

HAJ: Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed on Tuesday sought a reply from the ministry of religious affairs by May 19 on a writ petition challenging performance of Haj and Umrah by politicians and government functionaries on state expense.

Barrister Javed Iqbal Jaffrey petitioned that economy of Pakistan was deteriorating but politicians and high officials were performing Haj and Umrah on government expense.

He prayed to the court to impose a ban on performance of Haj and Umrah and other foreign visits by politicians and officials on state expense.

FACEBOOK: The Lahore High Court has been moved through a constitutional petition for imposing a permanent ban on accessing social networking website, Facebook, for holding an objectionable and blasphemous contest “2nd Annual Draw Muhammad Day-May 20, 2011”.

The Mohammad & Ahmad, a public interest litigation company through its chairman Mohammad Azhar Siddique, petitioned that due to holding fresh competition, the Civil Lines SHO be directed to register a case under Section 295-C and other relevant provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code against the perpetrators.