LAHORE: Work on the Kalma Chowk flyover may get affected by litigation started by five petrol pumps on Ferozpur Road against proposed demolitions.

The district coordination officer said on Thursday the government will request the court to decide these cases as soon as possible so that the project can be completed on time. However, he said if the court takes time in disposing of these cases, there may be some delay.

These pumps (two each operated by the Pakistan State Oil and Caltex and one by Shell) were proposed to be demolished to widen service lanes so that traffic could be diverted there, during the period the road was to remain closed for traffic. The Petrol Pumps Owners Association information secretary said the affected owners would vacate the pumps only if they were provided alternative sites.

PPOA information secretary Khawaja Atif warned that they would call a strike if the government refused to meet this demand. He said livelihoods of a number of families were at stake.

DCO Ahad Cheema rejected the demand for provision of alternate plots to the affected pump owners. He said the government had not bothered them for as long as there was no need of the land but now it needed it to complete the project in a timely manner it had to do so in public interest. About the threatened strike, he said the administration would deal with it once there was a date announced for it.

Saeed Qureshi, the owner of one of the petrol pumps, told The Express Tribune that though the petrol pump leases had been cancelled in December 2010, he had made payments for up till June 2011. He said he would not vacate the land before June and that he would resist the government’s attempts in this regards.

Sheikh Naveed, the Pakistan State Oil legal advisor, told The Tribune the company would comply with court orders. He said so far they had stay orders against demolitions but because the government wanted to vacate land for project public interest, they might withdraw the claim.

He said of the two PSO pumps, one had been sealed by the government because the stay order only protected it against demolition. The demolition of these five petrol pumps was required to widen service lanes at the Ferozpur Road so that traffic could be diverted during the time the road remained closed due to construction work.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 11th, 2011.