KARACHI: The work on the much-delayed Karachi Circular Railway will be started in July after a financial agreement is signed with a Japanese company which has been given the job of rehabilitating the existing track and extending it to other areas of the city.
Briefing the Senate’s Standing Committee on Pakistan Railways here on Saturday, Ijaz Hussain Khilji of the Karachi Urban Transport Corporation, said that the 1558.8-million-dollar project will be completed by the end of 2016 and in 2017 it will be fully operational.
Pakistan Railways Chairman Arif Azeem, the divisional superintendents for Karachi and Sukkur and other officials were present at the meeting.
The KCR will have a 43.12-kilometre dual track with 24 stations at an average distance of 1.5 kilometres. The track will be 22.86 kilometres elevated, 3.93 kilometres tunneled and 16.33 kilometres on the ground while the average per kilometre cost will be 36.15 million dollars.
Khilji informed the members of the Standing Committee that the major hurdles in the project – the removal of encroachments and allocation of land for resettlement – have almost been settled and the railways has already provided 270 acres for the resettlement. Compensation of Rs 50,000 along with a 80-square yard plot will be given to the people who will be displaced.
During the briefing, Senator Abdul Ghaffar Qureshi and other members of the Standing Committee expressed their concern that the work on the project has been going on since 2004. “It is all paperwork, where is the real work,” Qureshi asked, adding that “this project is very essential for the people of Karachi.” The chairman said that they have removed major hurdles on the ground and are now waiting for the signing of the financial agreement with Japanese International Co-operation Agency.
PR Karachi Divisional Superintendent Anzer Ismail Rizvi said that they had retrieved 18.359 acres from the squatters since January 2012. The railways has a total 20,344 acres in Karachi out of which 941.63 acres have been taken over illegally.
There are katchi abadis on 519 acres out of which 62 acres have been given proper papers. But 456 acres is still occupied by squatters.
They have been facing violent resistance, political interference, a lack of resources, and have struggled to find the right legal adviser in these cases.
Senator Maulana Gul Naseeb, the chairman of the committee, expressed his concern over the media’s role in propagating a negative image of Pakistan Railways. “Railway is the strongest organ of the government, we should not only keep the railways running but we have to make it a well-earning department”.
Senator Abdul Ghaffar Qureshi, Senator Suriya Amiruddin, Senator Prof. Muhammad Ibrahim Khan and Senator Abdul Rashid were present.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2012.