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Encroachers on KCR land in panic after court orders their removal

Updated May 14, 2019

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A THRIVING market has cropped up at the Nazimabad KCR station, as seen here in this file photo.—White Star
A THRIVING market has cropped up at the Nazimabad KCR station, as seen here in this file photo.—White Star

KARACHI: Residents and shopkeepers said to be encroaching on Pakistan Railways land for many years have been in a state of panic since last week after the Supreme Court (SC) ruling called for vacating the land within the next two weeks to make way for the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR).

The SC, last Friday, gave two weeks to the Pakistan Railways authorities to retrieve the land from the people settled along the tracks of the KCR and hand it over to the Sindh government after ensuring that all those affected have been rehabilitated. The Sindh government, too, has been given a month’s time for making the KCR functional.

“The people are very upset obviously, and understandably so,” Mohammad Ali Shah Kazmi, legal adviser for the Karachi Circular Railway Affectees Action Committee told Dawn.

‘The resettlement plan should have been carried out much before the removal of encroachments’

When asked why they were upset when the SC also spoke of providing them alternative places, he said that they should have moved to those so-called alternative places by now.

“It is the month of Ramazan and after learning of the court’s orders the poor people have not even been able to eat at Sehri or Iftar properly,” he said.

“The resettlement plan should have been carried out much before the removal of encroachments.”

According to information shared by the Karachi Circular Railway Affectees Action Committee there is a resettlement action plan in place since 2013, which says that some 4,653 people will be moved and resettled elsewhere. “They were to be resettled near Juma Goth, adjacent to Shah Latif Town. There was also a tender notice floated for a boundary wall around the 324-acre open plot reserved for the purpose,” he said.

“Each affected family was to get a little home on 80 yards of land with Rs50,000 and transport for moving house with 30 days’ notice. They still have letters that say so. But there are no houses built on that land and there is no place for these people to go,” the legal adviser added.

Though no one in Pakistan Railways was willing to speak about the matter openly, sources say that they are not really sure how to go about it. One source in the Railways said that they could not do much unless the Sindh government provided them force. With that not having happened and with the court order looming over their heads, the Railways have called their own police from several cities that comes under the federal government to do the needful. Meanwhile, the fate of the affected persons remains unknown.

Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2019