karachi: The Sindh High Court on Thursday restrained the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation from taking any adverse action against allottees of Bheins Colony unless legal proceedings for the cancellation of their allotment are initiated in accordance with the law.
The direction came on a petition of allottees and other residents against the acquisition of land and construction of a biogas plant for the Red Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project in Cattle Colony.
The petitioners had submitted that the government’s attempt to acquire 32 acres of land to set up a biogas plant was detrimental to the health of the residents of the area. They submitted that Cattle Colony met the meat and milk requirements of the city and the land earmarked for the biogas plant was meant for slaughter houses and milk-farming facilities.
They further stated that disruption of commercial activities would adversely impact the quantities of meat and milk supplied to the city. They submitted that the biogas plant meant to be housed in a densely populated area would expose a large number of people to toxic elements.
The petitioners said the process of producing biogas involved collection of vast amounts of biological waste such as animal manure and carcasses for the production of biomethane and it also led to the production of carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide, which posed risk to public health.
They added that the viability of a biogas plant for running the transport project had not been tested and the absence of real-world examples of mass transit projects fuelled by biomethane in and of itself underscored the immense financial and infrastructure risk being undertaken by the government. They said that the government had failed to assess the financial feasibility of the project, especially given the untested nature of the mass transport project fuelled exclusively by biogas, and it also failed to assess other sustainable alternatives to biogas.
The counsel for the petitioners also filed stay application submitting that the respondents were threatening them with dispossession of the subject plot upon which they were claiming propriety rights pursuant to allotment by the KMC.
He submitted that the government intended to construct a biogas plant over 12 acres of land without seeking approval from the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa), while there was apprehension that the respondents would take adverse action against the petitioners.
The SHC was requested to declare the allotment of land in Cattle Colony for the purpose of a biogas plant as illegal as it was done without considering the health consequences for the residents. The provincial law officer sought time to seek instructions from the government in this regard.
A division bench, headed by Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, issued notices to the KMC, Sepa and others, and directed them to file comments on the application, and in meantime it directed the official respondents to ensure that petitioners are dealt with strictly in accordance with the law.
The court ordered that no adverse action against the petitioners be taken unless legal proceedings for the cancellation of their allotment or dispossession are initiated in accordance with the law.