Defibrillating the KCR


Gm Jamali April 26, 2010

KARACHI: The board of the Karachi Circular Railway project has met for five times in about the past two weeks to take what is now seen almost as a dead project off the ground.

Presidential directives are said to be responsible for the effort to revive Karachi’s internal railway. Many feel that Karachi’s transport issues could be solved to a great extent if the circular railway is restarted. However, many problems plague the issue, one of which is the encroachment along railway tracks. The project cannot essentially be made functional till the houses, shacks and even shopping malls are removed from its path.

The fifth meeting of the board, which took place on April 22 at Sindh Chief Secretary Fazalur Rehman’s office, decided that 357 acres would be allotted for the resettlement of the people removed from railway land. Rehman is also the chairman of the board which is formed with members from the Pakistan Railways, Malir Development Authority, the revenue department and the city district government, among others. The deadline for the first phase of the project, the route from City Station to Liaqatabad via Tower, has been set for 2011.

The second phase has not been announced yet. The managing director of the Malir Development Authority said that the authority is willing to vacate the land it has occupied if alternate land is provided and the money it spent on development reimbursed. The secretary of finance responded that the demand can be considered if details of the expenditure are provided. The next meeting is scheduled for the first week of May.

If the administrative work goes through, it would take an estimated three years to get the project off the ground. The plans are impressive. The government is trying to copy Singapore’s mass transit system with stations, computerised ticketing services and automated ticket gates. This is almost doubling the project’s cost.

APP reported that although the draft final report for Resettlemnt Action Plan (RAP) study for the KCR was sent to JICA on April 12, 2010, the transfer of the allocated land is still awaited. The PC I for the modified cost of Rs128.6 billion was approved by the federal government in September 2009. Satellite Imagery of the KCR route was completed in October 2009 by SUPORCO.

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