TAXILA: Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Monday announced that the government would provide land to Sikh organisations for construction of modern hotels in Kartarpur, Nankana Sahib and Narowal, besides construction of a railway station in Kartarpur to provide state-of-the-art board and lodging facilities to Sikh pilgrims visiting Pakistan.
He was talking to reporters after seeing off Indian Sikh pilgrims who departed for Lahore through special trains after offering their religious rituals at Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hassanabdal.
He said Pakistan Railways (PR) had offered 10 acres of land each in Kartarpur and Nankana Sahib and five acres of land in Narowal to Sikhs’ organisations for establishment of five-star hotels to facilitate Sikh pilgrims. Trains would be run from Nankana Sahib to Kartarpur and hostels would be constructed near all Sikh pilgrimage sites, he added.
The minister said the present government wanted to provide all facilities to Sikh pilgrims. He said the government was investing millions of rupees for modernisation of Hassanabdal and Narowal railway stations. He said that for better supervision of the Hassanabdal railway station, its administrative control would be transferred from Peshawar division to Rawalpindi division on Dec 1.
Minister says government has offered land in Kartarpur, Nankana Sahib and Narowal to Sikhs’ organisations
Answering a question, the minister said the decision about a railway track project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor would be taken after Dec 25. A new fast track from Peshawar to Karachi would be laid under proper fencing and there would be no level crossing on it, he said, adding that a dry port along the railway track would also be established.
In reply to another question, he said the government was embarking upon a major project of laying a new double rail track from Karachi to Peshawar. He said the upgrade of infrastructure would help run fast trains on this track.
He said freight trains were a major source of revenues, adding that the government was committed to launching more freight trains to increase the revenue of the PR and reduce its losses.
He said the Rehman Baba Express train would be launched on Dec 25. Nine out of 10 passenger train services have been launched while the number of freight trains will be increased to 12 as three more will be launched during the current fiscal year.
The minister said the PR was working on a project to install broad-gauge railway tracks from Karachi to Peshawar.
He apologised to Indian Sikh pilgrims for the inconvenience they faced due to paucity of coaches in special trains which resulted in delay of their travelling from Nankana Sahib to Panja Sahib.
During his visit to the Hassanabdal railway station, he took notice of the slow pace of renovation work. He directed the officials concerned to speed up the pace of work and give the railway station a festive look before the Baisakhi festival in April next year. He also took stock of encroachments on railway land and directed officials to ensure removal of all types of encroachments by Dec 1.
Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2018