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LHC Declares Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project Illegal

LHC Declares Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project Illegal

Lahore: On Tuesday the Lahore High Court Declared the Ravi Riverfront Development Project Illegal and in contradiction with the constitution of Pakistan. The court had reserved last month the decision on the various petitions challenging the legality of the Project. The government was of the view that developing a new city in Lahore with all basic amenities will not only accommodate the ever-increasing population in the city by reducing pressure on Lahore but also help in the management and revival of the River Ravi. The Petitioners on the other hand claimed that the forceful acquisition of their agricultural land for construction and development was illegal as well as against the Environmental laws. The court has decreed in favor of the landowners and scrapped the Ravi Riverfront Urban Project by declaring the RUDA Act illegal and in violation of the rights of the citizens. The court also directed the Authority to return within two months the Rs 5 billion acquired from the Punjab Bank for this purpose. Span over an area of 46 KM, the Project worth around 7 billion USD comprised of commercial area, schooling, and health was meant for supporting urbanization in the Provincial metropolis.

The court has termed that several provisions of Ravi Urban Development Authority (RUDA) are in contradiction of the law. It states that section 4 of the RUDA Act Is in contradiction with Article 144-A of the constitution. The Petitioners that included landowners, farmers, and developers had reached Lahore High Court through advocate Sheraz Zaka and others, whereby claiming that the forceful and hasty acquisition of land for commercial purposes was against the Land Acquisition Act 1894. The said articles pertain to local government. Some of the petitioners had also challenged the Environment impact of the project. Furthermore, advocate Amina Qadir, The appointed amicus curiae in this case, that depriving the province of its fertile land does not justify the importance of the project keeping in view that there is no mechanism for compensation to the affectees of the project. 

Barrister Ali Zafer, The RUDA Counselor, however, argued that the project is environment friendly and the neat and clean environment would be ensured by the plantation process in the area. The CEO RUDA Imran Amin in his statement said that he would respect the court’s order however would look into the legal proceedings in this regard. In a statement after having a detailed meeting with SAPM Hassan Khawer, he said they had instructed the authorities to run the project in a better way. During the meeting in RUDA headquarter Hassan Khawer said, "We will comply with the court order and the RUDA will continue its work in the light of the court decision. This project is a milestone for a bright future of the country and the nation.” He further added that projects like RUDA are vital for providing world-class facilities, population control, and reducing environmental pollution in big cities.

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