PESHAWAR: On Thursday, the Peshawar High Court ordered the provincial government to take immediate measures to clean up five canals in the capital city and search for pollution, as well as to submit a progress report.
A bench consisting of Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Mohammad Naeem Anwar ordered the director general of the Peshawar Development Authority (PDA) to crack down on commercial plazas in the capital city that lack parking spaces, especially on University Road, and demolish them if necessary.
While hearing environmental-related petitions filed by lawyer Ghulam Shoaib Jally, Hamad Hassan Yousafzai, Malik Misraf, Hammad, and other residents, the bench, called the green bench, issued directions.
Dr. Kazim Niaz, the provincial chief secretary, also turned up on notice and vowed to obey the court’s orders. Sikander Hayat Shah, the Additional Advocate General, PDA Director General Ammara Khan, and a number of other officers also appeared before the green bench.
The court ordered an immediate termination to all sources of canal pollution, as well as an quick start to work on the government’s canal uplift scheme.
The bench noted that it didn’t want to annoy the chief secretary, but that it had no choice but to summon him because the relevant departments had failed to fulfill their duties.
The chief justice noted that relevant officials had told the bench that uplift work on all canals would not begin at the same time, meaning that the project’s execution would be slow and take much longer to complete.
The government had already approved funds for the canal uplift project, according to the chief secretary, and work on the canals would begin on May 15 after the necessary formalities were completed.
Five high-level meetings, he said, had already taken place in this regard.
Dr. Kazim also reported that the government was taking measures to minimize emissions.
He claimed that the establishment of the largest public park in the provincial capital was planned near the Hazarkhwani town.
The government, according to the chief secretary, has been taking action against commercial plazas that lack parking for traders and tourists.
According to the PDA director general, the authority decided to construct parking plazas on University Road, one of Peshawar’s busiest highways, as part of a public-private partnership to resolve car parking issues.
She went on to say that locations had already been developed for that reason, and that parking plazas would solve the problem.
The area, according to the chief justice, had several shopping plazas, with basements that were once used for car parking but were now used for shops.
According to the DG, the authorities have been cracking down on such plazas and ensuring that parking basements are used for their building.
According to the bench, Several Bus Rapid Transit stations were flooded during the recent storm, and the busy University Road was also flooded, causing traffic congestion and inconvenience to pedestrians.
The chief justice noted that the BRT project seemed to be far from finished.
Ghulam Shoaib Jally, a senior lawyer, stated in a contempt petition that the high court had issued a detailed order on Dec 12, 2017, for the improvement of canal conditions, including both short- and long-term steps, in response to his earlier petition.
The petitioner argued that the government had disregarded some of the high court’s orders in that case, including the construction of new sewerage treatment plants in all urban areas of Peshawar City for safe effluent disposal.