KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly adopted a resolution on Monday, recommending the provincial government to approach the federal government and ask it to accord the highest priority to the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR). According to Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, KCR has been excluded from Prime Minister Imran Khan's agenda for his upcoming visit to China.
In his speech, the CM said that he would fight for the rights of Sindh whether the opposition parties support the move or not. The resolution was moved by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MPA Ghanwer Ali Khan Isran, who said that the KCR project was earlier included in China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) on the request of the provincial government in 2016 and since then, the Sindh government has been diligently following the project.
"It is noteworthy to state that so far, several letters have been written by the chief minister to the federal government in the last three years and most recent was written in August 2019," read the resolution. "Sindh government has participated in all the relevant technical forums relating to CPEC projects including Joint Working Group and joint coordination committee meetings in Islamabad and China from 2017 to 2018," it states further. "The government of China acknowledged the feasibility of the project and agreed to include the same in its portfolio," states the resolution.
According to the resolution, the Sindh government is taking full responsibility for loans and their repayment while the federal government has only been providing sovereign guarantees. The resolution argued that this was against Karachi and national development which would be possible by investing in mass transport for the city.
"It has been reported that the prime minister of Pakistan on his upcoming visit to China will be engaging to secure financing for ML-1 [The Karachi to Peshawar Railway Track] and not KCR.
It is stated that the KCR project, by all means, is a project of national importance and not only the people of Karachi, but the entire country will benefit from it," reads the resolution.
The resolution passed by the house stated that the "first 'Right Way' on the 18-kilometre stretch from Drigh Road to City Station and Karachi Port should be accorded to KCR," in the interest of Karachiites. "…an alternate route, the preferably elevated track may be established by the federal government for the purpose of ML-1. The house further implored and demands that the PM should make all endeavours to make the KCR project a priority in his forthcoming trip to China," it adds.
'Let us speak'
PPP MPAs supported the resolution while opposition lawmakers of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement - Pakistan (MQM-P) opposed it. They expressed the opinion that they had nothing against the resolution or the KCR project. They claimed they opposed the resolution because the Sindh government would not give them a chance to speak.
Meanwhile, the Coastal Development Authority Act 1994 was amended to include the Karachi coastal belt to Sindh's jurisdiction. The bill, which was passed in the assembly, was presented by Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani. Prior to this move, Karachi had not been part of Sindh's coastal jurisdiction.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2019.
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