Direct­s EPA direct­or, traffi­c police to file fortni­ghtly report­s on pollut­ion and traffi­c

PESHAWAR: Over a month after it first started hearing on the case, the Peshawar High Court on Thursday disposed of a petition against the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), declaring it legal and not in violation of Article 140-A of the Constitution.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Maulana Amanullah Haqqani had challenged the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project, being built under the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Urban Mass Transit Act 2016, claiming that the initiative was ‘illegal’ since procedural formalities listed in the Constitution were not fulfilled by the government.

He had also questioned the technical ability of government to carry out such a mega project.

A two-member bench comprising Chief Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Younis Thaheem termed the project as legal.

The bench, in its judgment, expressed concerns over traffic issues caused by the project and expressed dismay over the alternate arrangement plans presented by the traffic police officials.

Justice Afridi directed SP traffic to explain what else can he do to get rid of pollution and traffic gridlocks on the road.

“Around 50 per cent pollution in the city is due generated by heavy vehicles on the ring road,” the SP said.

“We are going to ban the entry of heavy vehicles in the city to get rid of heavy traffic jam and pollution.”

The traffic official further said that on university road, traffic suffers due to intense security checking of vehicles at the varsity’s gates. This, he argued, blocks the entire road.

He told the court they have taken up the issue with the university’s officials to use the gates located at the back of the varsity for entry. However, they have not received any response from them.

The court directed the traffic official to take all steps in ensure the flow of traffic.

The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) director general was asked if he had given conditional approval for the project. If so, then he was held responsible for keeping an eye on the project since the issue of environment is concerning.

“Whenever you feel that there is something lacking on behalf of the project management, you will submit it to the director of the PHC’s human rights directorate, who will then submit it [report] to the PHC chief justice,” the court observed as it directed the EPA DG to submit fortnightly progress reports on the BRT project to the PHC’s Human Rights Department on the traffic jam and pollution caused by the project.

The court directed the officials concerned, including the cantonment board and the traffic police to make proper arrangements to ensure smooth flow of traffic on the roads while the project is built.

Justice Afridi asked BRT Project Manager Aminuddin Khan whether he would be able to carry out his responsibilities in the wake of a corruption reference filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

After he could not respond properly, the PHC remarked that they cannot jeopardize the project and relieved him of his duties. The Peshawar Development Authority director general was directed to take on Aminuddin’s responsibilities.

The detailed judgment of the case will be issued later.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 8th, 2017.

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