LAHORE: The Lahore High Court has declared Prime Minister Imran Khan’s River Ravi Urban Development Project illegal and passed orders to immediately halt its construction.
At a hearing on Tuesday, Justice Shahid Karim announced the verdict which was earlier reserved in an open court.
He said that the requirements of the project prior to its construction were not fulfilled. “The Section 4 of the Ravi Urban Development Authority Act, 2020, is against the constitution.”
It states: “The government shall, by notification in the official Gazette, establish an Authority to be known as the Ravi Urban Development Authority for carrying out the purposes of this Act.”
“The authority shall be a body corporate, with perpetual succession and a common seal, with powers, subject to the provisions of this Act, to acquire and hold property, both movable and immovable, and may by the said name, sue and be sued. The Government shall review the performance of the Authority and may, from time to time, give general policy directions to implement such directions,” the section added.
But under the 1984 law, agriculture land can only be acquired legally, which was not done in the case of the project. Thus, it is illegal, the court asserted and declared the RUDA notification (of transferring 7,000-acre land to the government) null and void.
Justice Karim remarked that the master plan of the project was prepared without consultations from local and district governments.
He added that the Ravi authority immediately repay the loan of Rs5 billion it took from the Punjab government for the project.
A petition against the River Ravi project was filed by Hassan Ali Ranjha, a resident of T & T Abpara Housing Society. He asked for the government to take steps against smog and stop the ‘illegal construction’ along the river.
“Large swathes of agricultural land is likely to be gobbled up which would further hamper the biological diversity keeping in view Convention on Biological Diversity and public trust doctrine,” it stated.
Last year in February, the construction of the project was halted after the court said that the project has to be cleared by all environmental agencies.