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KARACHI: Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah will perform groundbreaking of the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) on the birthday of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah (Dec 25) at a ceremony to be held at Wazir Mansion — the residence of the founder of the nation.

The initial estimated cost of the project, which has been included in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), is about $2 billion.

The chief minister formed a task force under the Karachi commissioner for removal of encroachments from the project area, where 67 acres have been encroached upon. He directed planning and development chairman Mohammad Waseem to expedite the paper work and ensure that international tenders for the project were invited in October.

The chief minister issued the directives while presiding over a meeting on the KCR at the CM House on Friday. The meeting was attended by Minister for Transport and Information Syed Nasir Shah, Mohammad Waseem, CM’s principal secretary Sohail Rajput, transport secretary Saeed Awan, energy secretary Agha Wasif and others. Top officials of Chinese firms were also present.

Initial estimated cost of the project is about $2 billion

CM Shah asked the transport department to float international tenders for KCR so that work on it could start on Dec 25. “It is the most important project which has been included in the CPEC after our constant efforts. I want to perform groundbreaking of the project on the birthday of the Quaid-i-Azam and, therefore, plan should be made accordingly,” he said.

The transport minister informed the meeting that the KCR project had been approved by the Capital Development Working Party in May this year and it would now be placed before the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council for approval.

At this, the chief minister directed the planning and development chairman to make necessary paper work in this regard.

Nasir Shah said there were some encroachments on the KCR right of way (RoW), adding that some factories located between Wazir Mansion and Manghopir were releasing effluent there, while cattle pens and dense bushes also emerged along the RoW. “This causes serious problems in survey work which is in progress,” he said.

The transport secretary said that according to a survey carried out by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), 4,653 households would be affected by the project. He said the railway land required for KCR was 360 acres, PR land on KCR loop 260 acres and railway land on UP mainline 100 acres. He said there were 2,997 structures and 4,653 households (encroachers) along the KCR RoW.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2017