THE Lahore High Court on Monday issued a notice to the Punjab government on an application, filed by the WWF-Pakistan, Lahore Bachao Tehreek and others, seeking stay against the proposed Canal Road widening project.

The WWF-Pakistan, Lahore Bachao Tehreek and 13 other co-petitioners, including the Pakistan Environmental Lawyers Association, Lahore Conservation Society, Institute of Architects of Pakistan and Shehri-CBE, had filed a writ petition challenging the approval, granted by the Environment Protection Agency, Punjab, to the Environment Impact Assessment of the Canal Road widening project prepared by the National Engineering Service Pakistan (Nespak).

The project proponent was the Traffic Engineering and Transportation Planning Agency (Tepa) and the project involved the widening of the Lahore Canal Road from Dharampura to Thokar Niaz Beg.

The Lahore Bachao Tehreek pointed out that the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) had failed to take alternative routes or transport options into consideration. Besides, it neither properly undertook a study of the noise pollution an extra lane would contribute to nor had it issued any recommendations to deal with severance, health and safety issues related to the construction of a highway in a city.

The Tehreek said that an EIA review and ecological study of the Canal Road, undertaken by the WWF-Pakistan, revealed that Nespak’s EIA had failed to properly appreciate the environmental degradation the project would entail. It stated that the project remained dormant since 2007 until last month, when the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) published advertisements in major newspapers notifying the public of the “positive impacts” of the project.

This was the first time the LDA, under the Shahbaz Sharif government, had indicated its desire to undertake a project originally proposed by the Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi government.

The court of Justice Hamid Ali Shah issued notice on the stay application, seeking reply from the Punjab government, LDA and EPA, and ordered the case be fixed for arguments after summer vacations in the LHC.

Source: The News