The Ravi Urban Development Authority (“RUDA”) has been established by the Ravi Urban Development Act, 2020 to implement a multi-trillion Rupee River Ravi Urban Development Project along the banks and floodplain of the River Ravi at Lahore. The RUDA project is an urban development project for which environmental approval of the Punjab Environmental Protection Agency is required under the Punjab Environmental Protection Act, 1997 and the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Review of initial environmental examinations and environmental impact assessments) Regulations 2000. Being a project that will have irreparable adverse environmental impact on the natural environment, including the destruction of rich farmland and loss of livelihoods for the farming community in the area, it is imperative that proper environmental approvals be obtained.
PILAP has filed a Writ Petition before the Lahore High Court against the Punjab Environmental Protection Authority and the Ravi Urban Development Authority, as well as the consultant company hired to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment for the project. The Writ Petition is against approval of the environment assessments which have not been obtained in accordance with the law. The Honourable High Court has granted an interim injunction restraining the Punjab EPA from granting environmental approvals for the project.
PILAP filed a writ petition before the Lahore High Court to put a stop to these development activities. The Lahore High Court, in a lengthy judgement, was pleased to declare RUDA’s parent statute unconstitutional and thereby put a halt to all development activities under the RUDA project. The Punjab Government challenged this order of the LHC before the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which put a stay on the operation of the LHC order, but at the same time, only allowed RUDA to continue development activities on the land it had already acquired up until the date of the SC order i.e. 31.01.2022.
In flagrant violation of this order, RUDA continued to acquire more land in the area. The Punjab Government also enacted a RUDA Amendment Act, 2022 which was retrospective and gave legal cover to RUDA’s earlier activities. PILAP then filed another contempt petition before the LHC, challenging RUDA’s violations of the SC order.