KARACHI: Work on the new feasibility report of the Karachi Circular Railway has been started and it will be completed in two to three months, said Sindh Transport Minister Nasir Shah on Tuesday.
Briefing the media after a visit to various portions of the KCR route, he said the KCR was one of the mega projects of the city and after completion it would have the capacity to carry over 700,000 commuters daily and the transport problem of the city would be solved to a great extent. Deputy Mayor Arshad Vohra also accompanied the minister.
Giving some background of one of the major transport projects, he said earlier the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) had conducted various studies of the project and had shown interest in it. It had even submitted 46 recommendations/conditions, of which 45 had been accepted by the government, but later JICA backed out. He said a few days ago the government had again approached JICA to ask if it wanted to rejoin the project, but it declined.
Encroachers told to remove their bungalows, factories from designated route
He said it was a big achievement of the Sindh government that the KCR, Keti Bundar and a special industrial zone had been included in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects, after which chances of early completion of these schemes had become bright.
He said one of the biggest hitches in the way of the KCR was the numerous encroachments set up by unscrupulous elements along a major portion of the route. He warned the influential encroachers to remove their bungalows, factories and other illegal structures from the designated route otherwise legal action would be taken and encroachers would be evicted with the help of law enforcers.
He said the encroachers over the years had established illegal structures along and on a major portion of the existing railway track, and spaces reserved for stations and platforms. He said negotiations with the stakeholders and encroachers would be held but they would have to move away to clear the way for the circular railway. A handful of encroachers and their supporters would not be allowed to stop or delay this important project that was vital for the progress of the metropolis.
He said some groups (political, ethnic etc) were supporting the encroachers under the garb of extending support to poor people but in fact those groups were creating a big hindrance in the development and implementation of a project that would greatly resolve one of the major transport issues of city commuters, who will get a better and comfortable form of transport.
Mr Vohra said the KCR was an old issue of the city that had been lingering for the past several decades. He said it was good news for the Karachiites that work on this vital project had once again been started. He said he hoped that the government would take keen interest in this project and would implement it to help resolve the transport issue to a great extent.
He said encroachments were illegal and no encroachers or their supporters were strong enough to stop the government from taking a legal action of evicting them and removing their illegal structures from the government property / land to clear way for the project of public importance.
Earlier, the minister accompanied by the deputy mayor, Karachi railway chief Nisar Memon and Sindh transport secretary Taha Farooqui visited various places on the KCR route, including City Station, Lyari, Gharibabad, Baloch Hotel, Urdu Science College, Nipa bridge, Chanesar Halt, etc to see the encroachments as well as the condition of the existing railway track.
The KCR is a decades-old project and its initial cost was around $700 million which over the years and after some changes in the route, had increased to about $3 billion. As time passed the number of encroachments increased on and along the railway track, making the implementation of the project expensive as well as more difficult owing to resettlement issues.