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Supreme Court makes Orange Line Train decision

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News Analysis |

On Friday, the Supreme Court was supposed to make its decision on the construction of the Orange Line Train project in Lahore. They have not been able to find anything illegal that would prevent them from allowing this project to go through.

The Supreme Court has dismissed the initial decision by the Lahore High Court to stop the construction of the project. Justice Ijazul Ahsan announced the decision on the multi-billion dollar train project that is supposed to revolutionize the public transportation industry of Pakistan.

The Punjab government insists on trying to help the people of Lahore ease their daily commute but they seem to forget that their responsibility also extends to people residing outside the city of Lahore and to the entire province.

This decision comes 8 months after the halt by the Lahore High Court in April. Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Maqbool Baqar and Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel were a part of the larger bench decision that the Supreme Court took. The bench includes three out of the five members of the Panama Papers verdict that led to the ousting of ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

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The Supreme Court ordered the Punjab government to resume construction and form two committees within 30 days. The two committees have been given different responsibilities. The first committee is in charge of assessing losses that have been suffered by the delay of this project. The other committee is going to assess the damage to the heritage buildings in Lahore affected by the project and will be given Rs. 130 million to repair and renovate these buildings.

This committee will include a senior archeology professor from Punjab University and a senior judge nominated by the chief justice to ensure it operates effectively. The court has also stated that the project should be completed according to its initial dates and that there should not be any further delay.

The other committee is going to assess the damage to the heritage buildings in Lahore affected by the project and will be given Rs. 130 million to repair and renovate these buildings.

Lahore has a population of over 10 million people and there have always been very limited varieties of public transport in the city, mainly comprising of rickshaws and taxis. Large scale public transit seemed like a necessity in Lahore where getting stuck in traffic jams would take up hours of everyone’s day.

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The Metro Bus project began its service in February 2013 and has been successful in its four years in Pakistan’s second most populous city. However, the Metro Bus project does not seem to be enough to accommodate the continuously rising population of Lahore. The Orange Line Train project is supposed to be completed by October 2019.

The opening of Orange Line brings up the question as to why even waste the public’s money on a massive project like the Metro Bus project that cost billions of dollars when the government is going to introduce a brand new more efficient one just six years later? While all this is being done in Lahore, the under developed, poverty stricken rural areas of South Punjab are being ignored.

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The Punjab government insists on trying to help the people of Lahore ease their daily commute but they seem to forget that their responsibility also extends to people residing outside the city of Lahore and to the entire province.


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