SC tells Sindh govt, PR to respect deadline for circular railway completion

Updated 25 Sep 2020

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The Supreme Court had proposed in February that work on revival of the KCR commence within six months.
— Photo courtesy Supreme Court website/File
The Supreme Court had proposed in February that work on revival of the KCR commence within six months. — Photo courtesy Supreme Court website/File

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court cautioned the Sindh government as well as the Pakistan Railways on Thursday not to exceed the timeline prescribed by it for revival of the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR).

When a three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, took up a suo motu case relating to colossal losses incurred by Pakistan Railways (PR), it was informed that the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) had proposed the construction of underpasses and overhead bridges for smooth running of trains on KCR route.

Additional Attorney General Chaudhry Aamir Rehman, Railways Secretary Habibur Rehman Gilani as well as some officials of the Sindh government attended the hearing.

The Supreme Court had proposed in February that work on revival of the KCR commence within six months.

CJP rejects report showing encroachments on both sides of track

The court was informed that survey for the construction of 11 underpasses had been completed by the FWO while the remaining 13 would be completed soon.

Planning had been done while designing work was in progress, the court was informed. Contract for construction of these underpasses will be awarded soon after the FWO comes out with a design and an estimate of the construction cost.

The court was asked to extend the deadline by six weeks for making the Karachi Circular Railway functional.

During the hearing, the railways secretary assured the court that no impediment had been created by the Sindh government and work was in progress day and night to start running trains on the route within the timeline agreed upon.

About encroachments, the court was informed that the Sindh government had taken a number of steps while the railways secretary said most of the encroachments had been removed and the rest would be removed soon.

The court ordered the Sindh government to remove the remaining encroachments and make sure that no tracks were encroached upon in future.

The Sindh government must make arrangements for rehabilitation of the people evicted during removal of encroachments, the Supreme Court said.

Earlier during the hearing, the chief justice rejected a report that showed encroachments in the shape of buildings on both sides of the track.

The chief justice wondered whether the PR bosses were not concerned about the state lands on which encroachments had been made and asked the railways secretary to visit the site and examine the situation on the ground himself.

The railway department should have approached the court after clearing the encroachment, the chief justice remarked.

The KCR revival project includes transformation of the old Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) into a mass transit system. The total length of the railway track is expected to be 50km.

Opened in 1964, the route of the old KCR started from Drigh Road and ended in downtown Karachi. It ceased operations in 1999 after suffering huge losses for years.

Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2020