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Abandonment of Leh Expressway: LHC seeks explanation from RDA

RAWALPINDI: After the people, the judiciary now wants to know why Leh Expressway was abandoned.

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday directed Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) to file a written response in a petition filed for revival of Leh Expressway and Flood Channel Project that was initiated by the previous government and shelved by the current one.

Justice Saghir Ahmed Qadri of the LHC Rawalpindi bench issued notices to the RDA Director-General (DG) seeking written comments within two weeks in a petition asking for the resumption of the multi-billion project.

Earlier, Ali Jan Awais and four other men, through Advocate Asad Rajpoot, had filed a writ petition with the LHC asking the court to direct the Punjab government to resume the multi-billion project without any delay.

Citing DG RDA, project director of the expressway, chief secretary Punjab, chairman board of planning and development Punjab and the federal government as respondents, the five petitioners said the authorities should be directed not to give up the project worth Rs17.76 billion in the best interest of the people living on the banks of Leh.

Giving the details of the susceptibility of the urban population to floods, in the 45-kilometre-long Leh which passes through the city, the petitioners said climate change and increased rainfall in the twin cities had further enhanced the risks of flooding.

They said the project started in 2007 was given up by present government after 2008 general election but the idea was necessary to be implemented as it would not only help control the floods but also reduce the dumping of solid waste in the drain. The project will also ease the traffic issue in the area, they stated in their petition.

Citing the political interests as the only reason for the abandonment of the project, the petitioners said as many as 21 different ideas had been floated in the last many years to control the flooding in the Leh and having roads on both sides of the drainage canal had been considered the best solution.

The Punjab government after ignoring the useful mega project is planning to focus on Rs72 billion project of Ring Road that showed the government had enough funds.

The petitioners further said the contractor FWO had filed a civil case against the RDA asking the court to direct the authorities not to back out of the contract as the contractor was ready to follow the project.

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