ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the Punjab government to respond to the objections raised by civil society regarding would-be damage to heritage sites due to the Orange Metro Train project. The court also held that if required it would seek briefing from technical experts into the matter. Counsel for civil society, Asma Jahangir, resumed her arguments in the case before a five-member larger bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, which is hearing the case on daily basis. She informed the court that her clients were not against such projects but they desired to safeguard the historic sites, adding that the government had initiated the project without seeking a no-objection certificate (NOC). She contended that tourists visited Lahore only to explore these historic sites. Probably the tourists would come to see which train devastated the sites, she added. She said that a Japanese company did survey for mass transit in 1991 and it recommended the underground trains near heritage sites. The elevated tracks were built only to get commercial benefits, she contended. These sites would not be visible to pedestrians after completion of the project, she argued. Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed observed that the court could direct the provincial government for allocation of funds to protect the heritage and historic sites. Asma claimed that details of the projects had been kept secret, adding that when asked for details the authorities had said the project was part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). She added that these sites were barely added in the list of international heritages and if the project was materialised according to the government’s plan then these sites would be excluded from the list. She argued that no study had been conducted for examining the structure of these sites, adding that Shalimar Gardens and Chauburji were already in poor condition. Historic importance of Shalimar Gardens is more than that of the Supreme Court Registry Lahore, she contended, adding that the structure for the registry could be changed. She said that the Punjab government had no idea about historical importance of these sites, adding that the distance between hydraulic tanks of Shalimar Gardens and the train project was less. When Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan said that according to photographs the distance was reasonable, Asma said it was the Punjab government’s version, however, reality was contrary to it. She added that the General Post Office building was being affected and cracks had already appeared. During the course of hearing, Advocate Shahid Hamid, counsel for NESPAK, told the larger bench that the Punjab government had allocated Rs 100 million for protection and maintenance of historic and heritage sites while work had been started on Chauburji. The court will resume its hearing on Thursday (today).