SHC seeks SEPA record on Clifton flyover project

KARACHI: Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday directed Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) official to place on record the project file on which Initial Environmental Assessment (IEE) report was issued for construction of a flyover and two underpasses in Clifton.

Justice Muneeb Akhtar, who headed a single bench of SHC, gave this direction while hearing two lawsuits against traffic improvement project allegedly being built without complying with the mandatory requirements of environmental protection laws and approval from authorities concerned.

The judge directed Ashiq Ali Langah director IEE SEPA to remain in attendance in each and every hearing until he is exempted from appearance. The court asked him to bring along with him project file on which IEE report was issued. Hearing of case was adjourned till April 24.

One lawsuit was filed by Pakistan Defence Officers Housing Authority seeking injunction against the project. Plaintiff’s counsel submitted before the judge that Bahria Town had launched the project titled “Bahria Town Icon Tower” near Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s shrine in Clifton.

It had also undertaken a project “Grade Separated Improvement Plan” from Park Tower Intersection to AT Naqvi Roundabout comprising a flyover in front of Park Towers in Clifton and two underpasses near Kothari Parade, as part Bahria Town Icon Tower project.

He said the impugned project, which was being financed and executed by Bahria Town at the estimated cost of Rs 1.8 billion, was required for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as only an Initial Environmental Assessment (IEE) had been submitted for the project so far.

Issuance of IEE by SEPA was contrary to law and such approval cannot permit impugned project to continue, he added.

While defending impugned project in Clifton, real estate tycoon Bahria Town stated before Sindh High Court that the project being executed in the public interest would not cause any adverse impact on environment.

Firm’s counsel Akhtar Hussain said SEPA had provided requisite approval for the construction of project strictly following the environmental laws. There was no adverse environmental impact of the project in question, which was being constructed on existing road, therefore, Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) approval for the project and its construction is in accordance with the law, he added.

Meanwhile, the bench directed counsels of Clifton Cantonment Board and Bahria Town to submit comments on lawsuit against project that is said to have posed serious threat to the structure of 150-year-old temple in Clifton.

Vikash Kumar had filed lawsuit stating that there existed unrest among the Hindu community about the construction of project that had posed a serious threat to the foundation of 150-year-old Sheeri Ratneshwar Mahadev Temple.

Ground vibrations from excavation for flyover were close to the temple and could cause the collapse of this structure, he added. Temple is protected under Sindh Heritage Act 1994, therefore, no construction work in or around temple be carried out. He requested the court to restrain real estate concern from continuing the construction on flyover and underpasses.

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