SHEIKHUPURA: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said the government did not present the Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project (RRUDP) project properly before the court.
The prime minister's statement came a couple of days after the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) ruling declared the much-celebrated project illegal.
The LHC on January 25 had announced its reserved judgment on a set of petitions challenging the land acquisition for the project and violations of environmental laws by the Ravi Urban Development Authority (RUDA), the executing body.
Speaking to the media during his visit to Rakh Jhok forest, the prime minister said the government would invoke the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court after the high court nullified the project.
This time, the PM said, the case would be presented in a better manner to appraise the court about the significance of the project in view of urban development and civic facilities.
The premier said there was a misconception about the Ravi Urban project that it was a housing society. Instead, he said, the grand project aimed at correcting the faults in the wake of unplanned construction of the city.
He highlighted the salient features of the project including plantation of two billion trees as part of forestation, construction of barrages to up water table and filtration of sewerage.
He said the $20 billion project would provide employment and encourage foreign investment.
Imran Khan said wealth creation would help run 40 affiliated industries.
“We need to set up new cities in view of the growing population, otherwise we will not be able to provide civic facilities to people,” he said.
He mentioned that Lahore in near future could face similar civic problems like Karachi as a result of unplanned urban development.
He regretted that the Sindh government did not allow construction at Bundal Island which was also a mega project in line with the planned development of cities.
The court in its judgment had declared several provisions of the RUDA Act illegal, stating that the RUDA failed to formulate its personal master plan under the law and any scheme made without a master plan is illegal.
It had said that the master plan of the Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project is the basic document and under the law, all schemes are subject to the master plan.
The court in its order had stated that Section 4 of the RUDA Amendment Ordinance contradicts Article 144-A of the Constitution. The judgment had stated that even the ordinance also failed to meet the requirements of the Constitution.
The ruling had said that agricultural land can be acquired only when there is a regular legal framework but the land acquired for the project is in violation of the 1894 Act. The acquisition notification under Section 4 is illegal, read the court order.
The judgment had stated that the collectors of Lahore and Sheikhupura failed to comply with the law regarding land acquisition. The court had also directed the RUDA to return the loan taken from the Punjab government within two months.
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