Make KCR operational this year, says SC

Court directs authorities to raze private school building, houses on Kidney Hill Park land


Our Correspondent August 11, 2020

The Supreme Court (SC) directed officials on Monday to ensure that the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) became operational this year.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, held a hearing on the intra-city rail service's restoration at the SC Karachi registry.

The CJP expressed displeasure when the railways secretary stated the KCR track was nearly cleared. "The deadline given [for the KCR restoration] has expired. Why has it not been restored?" he asked, at which the railways secretary responded that there were some obstructions due to the Green Line bus rapid transit project.

When the court turned to the advocate general to ask if the Sindh government had done anything in this regard, the latter explained that underpasses and overhead bridges were being built to deal with this, while the transport secretary added Rs5 billion had been allocated for the KCR in the provincial budget of which Rs3 billion had been released.

Irked, the CJP remarked that all tasks given to the government dragged on indefinitely, adding that the work should be assigned to capable people.

The court ordered the completion of underpasses, flyovers, fencing and other work related to the KCR within the stipulated time.

Kidney Hill Park encroachment

The court also directed Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani to raze the building of a private school as well as houses built on Kidney Hill Park land.

Shallwani informed the court that they had issued several notices to Faran Society, but without response.

When the court asked about shops or markets on park premises, the municipal commissioner said there were no shops, but Foundation Public School had a building there since 1996 and had obtained a stay order from the Sindh High Court.

When the counsel claimed it was difficult to run schools on commercial plots, Justice Ahsan asked if he was aware of the revenue generated by schools, adding that they earned billions of rupees.

A report submitted in court stated that 56 acres were reserved for the park, while four residential plots of 500 yards each, allotted by PECHS, were not included in the master plan.

CJP Ahmed remarked that PECHS had allotted land for illegal occupation, and asked whether the houses at the site were part of the master plan. Shallwani replied they were not, adding that the residents had been given evacuation notices.

The court told Shallwani to raze the houses and school building, and submit a report after vacating the land. It added that the allottees could contact the relevant authorities for a refund.

Restoring greenery

The Supreme Court (SC) directed on Monday the authorities to restore the green-belt along Sharae Quaideen while hearing a case pertaining to the removal of encroachments on the thoroughfare.

While Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani informed the court the encroachments had been removed and the green-belt restored, the petitioner's counsel claimed otherwise.

Commenting on the road's transformation, CJP Ahmed observed that the houses alongside it had been replaced by high-rise buildings and asked who had allowed their construction.

Shallwani responded that that Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and Karachi Development Authority had allotted the land to various builders.

The court directed the authorities to remap Lines Area by constructing high-rise apartment buildings and settling citizens there, while also ordering them to restore the Sharae Quaideen green-belt within a month.

Sea Breeze Plaza

Moreover, the bench directed the allottees of Sea Breeze Plaza to submit Rs50 million for the retrofitting of the building after National Engineering Services Pakistan (NESPAK) officials told the court that this task would require around Rs500 million.

The court added that NESPAK would be responsible for the building, which has been standing incomplete for decades, and directed the authorities to submit a detailed report regarding the retrofitting.

Gymkhana renovation

In another hearing, the CJP ordered the Karachi Gymkhana management to stop construction and renovation on its premises and sought a report from Shallwani, after the advocate-general stated that illegal construction was being carried out there in violation of court orders and laws pertaining to heritage sites.

Furthermore, the same bench directed authorities to remove illegal encroachments from Civil Aviation Authority land in Clifton and also construct a park on CAA land near the airport, further seeking a report from the CAA on this.

Separately, the court granted a three-month extension for the demolition of the Royal Park Residency building. The allottees' counsel moved the court to direct the authorities to issue refunds as well as profit, at which the bench issued notices to the relevant authorities.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2020.

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