LAHORE - The Lahore High Court yesterday stayed acquisition of some land of Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam School for Orange Line Metro Train at Multan Road.

Anjuman Himat-i-Islam had filed the petition in LHC, pointing out that the authorities changed its original plan of the Orange Line route and was trying to acquire the school’s land.

During the Wednesday hearing, the petitioner maintained that the school had a historical building which would be destroyed if the government allowed the land acquisition.

A division bench headed by Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh barred the government from acquiring land of the school and directed the authorities to submit replies.

In another petition, the LHC sought reply from the authorities concerned on a petition filed against pollution hazards caused by the Orange Line Metro Train project.

Although the $1. 6 billion Orange Line Metro Train project is not part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the federal government is not supposed to be a direct party to it, a counsel of the Centre had challenged the January 28 stay granted by the Lahore High Court against continuation of the project.

The federal government jumped in on a day when the Punjab government’s lawyer Khwaja Haris withdrew his power of attorney without giving the two-judge bench any reason behind his decision.

The court, however, extended the stay order until Feb 22, issuing notice to the federal government to explain their case.

The notice also goes to the opponents of the project, who have taken the matter to the court. The proceedings against the project had started a few months ago.

However, it was the first time yesterday that the federal government stepped in.

The petitioners’ counsel objected to the petition saying that that the federal government had nothing to do with the project as it was only of the Punjab government.

Around 26 historical sites including Lakashmi building, Shalimar Gardens, GPO Chowk, Aiwan-i-Auqaf, Shah Charagh building, Supreme Court registry, Saint Andrew Church, Baba Mauj Darya’s shrine, Ghulabi Bagh, Bhudhu ka Awa, Chauburji, tomb of Zeb-un-Nisa and others are under direct threat due to the project. The houses of the citizens and their businesses in the way of the project are also being demolished.

The project drew ire among public and opposition for displacing hundreds of families. The Opposition and the Treasury traded harsh word in the Punjab Assembly. the other day. On a point of order, Punjab Assembly Opposition Leader Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed said the House should be informed none other than Leader of the House (the Chief Minister) about the funding of the Orange Line.

Rana Sanaullah said it had been decided in the House Advisory Committee that a certain day would be fixed for the debate over the issue but the opposition leader in a session said they did not want to debate over the matter.

Mehmood said the Opposition want to debate the issue but only when the Chief Minister would inform the House about its funding.

The law minister, while requesting the chair to fix Thursday (tomorrow) for debate on the Orange Line, said he would answer all their questions.

The opposition torn the copies of agenda and staged protest by standing on their benches and in front of the podium of the speaker. Opposition’s Mian Aslam Iqbal also used unparliamentary language. The speaker ordered the house to show manners.

Both Opposition and Treasury chanted slogans against each other. The Opposition slogans were “Orange Line project unacceptable. Corruption project unacceptable.” The Treasury chanted slogans like, “Weep Imran Weep. Nawaz Sharif is the only Lion-like leader.” The chair fixed Thursday for debate over the Orange Line after completing the government business.

However, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said the elements opposing public welfare projects are enemies of progress and prosperity of the country. He said that those who criticised metro bus project were rejected by the people in general elections of 2013 and their defeat later in the local bodies’ elections endorsed this fact. He said that Orange Line Metro Train is a project of the whole country and a splendid gift to the people. He said that Punjab government is implementing the policy of balanced development of urban and rural areas.

The chief minister said that the PML-N government promoted transparency and high standard in the execution of development projects and funds of billions of rupees had been saved through this policy. He said that selfless service to the people is the mission of the government and a number of public welfare projects are being implemented speedily.

He said that it is the agenda of PML-N government to bring deprived segments into mainstream of development and all possible measures are being taken for this purpose. He said that under the policy of balanced development, mega projects are being completed in backward areas expeditiously.

The chief minister said that people of the province are fully benefitting from the projects completed in education, health, infrastructure and social sector. He said that transparency, standard and speed in the execution of projects are the hallmark of PML-N government.

He said that sincere efforts of government to resolve problems of the country are yielding positive results and the day is not far when Pakistan will overcome all its crises. He said by 2017, thousands of megawatt electricity would be added to national grid which will help control load-shedding.

The chief minister said that campaign for the elimination of child labour is continuing effectively and all concerned departments are working efficiently. He said that committees have been set up at district level for curbing child labour at brick kilns and these committees are working with commitment.