KARACHI: Out of the 360 acres over which Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) is spread, 67 acres are encroached upon, a railways official told Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Wednesday.
In the KCR loop, 47 acres are encroached upon while 20 acres are encroached on the main railways line, said Railways deputy superintendent for Karachi Nisar Memon. This encroached land has 4,653 houses and 2,997 other establishments, he said.
Around 20% of the KCR tracks are under encroachment, he pointed out, adding that the project can only be successful if these encroachments are removed. “Once the encroachments are removed, the project will start from Wazir Mansion, Kharadar, and will continue till DHA City, crossing Bahria Town,” said an official who was present in the meeting.
During the briefing at New Secretariat, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah also approved Rs45 million to prepare a feasibility report of KCR. This report must be submitted in the Joint Cooperation Committee comprising representatives of both Pakistan and China as it is now part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. He also told additional chief secretary of development Muhammad Waseem to coordinate with the federal government for the sovereign guarantee.
Shah also directed Karachi commissioner Aijaz Khan to hold a meeting with all the deputy commissioners and work out a plan to remove encroachments from the KCR route and submit a report within seven days.
According to Transport Minister Nasir Shah, KCR has a total length of 43 kilometres of which 13.43km is on the railways main line and 29.69km on the KCR loop inside the city. The minister personally visited the KCR route on Tuesday and found encroachments along its route.
Memon shared the details of encroachment along KCR stations. At Wazir Mansion station, 29.28 acres are encroached upon. From Wazir Mansion to Baldia 0.82 acres are encroached, 1.91 acres near Orangi Nullah, 1.44 acres from Orangi to Nazimabad, 2.36 acres from Nazimabad-Liaquatabad, 3.16 acres from Liaquatabad to Gilani, 2.05 acres from Gilani to Urdu College, 4.16 acres Urdu College to University and 0.91 acres from University to Depot Hill.
As for encroachment on KCR main line, 0.46 acres are encroached from Tower to Karachi City, 1.67 acres from Karachi City to Karachi Cantt, 5.837 acres from Karachi Cantt to Chanesar Halt, 11.77 acres from Chanesar Halt to Departure Yard and 2.63 acres from Departure Yard to Drigh Road.
For a long time, the revival of KCR was to be undertaken by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica). An eight-member resettlement committee headed by Karachi commissioner was supervising the project until Jica refused to go ahead with the funding as the government had failed to comply with its conditions.
Mayor orders removal of encroachments
Meanwhile, Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar directed the engineering department and other relevant officials to remove encroachments from footpaths and service roads in the city.
According to a press statement issued from Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), Akhtar met officials of the engineering department. Citizens have pedestrian rights in the Constitution and this is being violated due to establishment of encroachments, he said, requesting other landowners in Karachi to remove encroachments from footpaths and service roads located in their jurisdiction.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2017.