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Encroachments: Buildings on highways challenged in LHC

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Tuesday restrained the National Highway Authority from issuing fresh no-objection certificates (NOCs) for any building alongside national highways and sought a reply within two weeks from the National Highway and Motorway Police (NHMP).
Justice Khalid Mehmood Khan issued this order on a writ petition from Advocate Arif Karim, who claimed that illegal structures had been built alongside national highways and motorways.

The petitioner said that the National Highways Safety Ordinance 2000 made it the NHMP’s responsibility to decide what facilities were needed for commuters on the highways and motorways.

The NHMP had not been carrying out their duty in accordance with the law, he said, as many illegal structures had been built along the roads and further illegal constructions were in full swing.

Karim said the purpose of building highways was to regulate and streamline traffic, not facilitate the construction of shopping centres, housing societies and “other irrelevant and illegal businesses”.

He said the respondents could not allow any business activity on the highways as they were undesirable for the safety of the people and smooth flow of traffic.

He said that “gross criminal negligence” was apparent in the construction of many illegal building along the Lahore-Gujranwala road. He also mentioned irregularities at the Babu Sabu Interchange, Chowk Yateem Khana and Gujranwala city by-pass.

He asked the court to order criminal cases against the authorities and private persons that allowed and built the illegal structures and to stay the authorities from issuing fresh NOCs for the establishment of any structure till the petition was decided.

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