City commissioner tells Railways no one should lose their home

February 16, 2020

The scheduled anti-encroachment operation in the Gharibabad area of District South to clear the right of way of the Karachi Circular Railway , in which as many as 600 households could have lost...

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The scheduled anti-encroachment operation in the Gharibabad area of District South to clear the right of way of the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR), in which as many as 600 households could have lost their homes, did not take place on Saturday as no anti-encroachment team of the Pakistan Railways went to the area.

In the meantime, Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani told the Pakistan Railways in a meeting on Saturday that they needed to ensure that no citizen was rendered homeless during the process of reviving the Karachi Circular

Railway (KCR), as the Supreme Court and the Sindh cabinet had specifically directed for it.

The commissioner asked the Pakistan Railways divisional superintendent in the meeting to review arrangements for the revival of the KCR so that all the orders of the apex court are complied with.

It was decided in the meeting that in the initial phase of the process for the KCR revival, work on laying of the railway track should be completed with the removal of bushes along the track, and the railway stations should be made functional on a priority bases.

The meeting was attended among others by senior officials of the Pakistan Railways, Additional Commissioner-I Asad Ali, Additional Commissioner-II Dr Waqas Roshan, deputy commissioners of District East and District South, and officials of the mass transit authority.

Shallwani said all the required operational work should be completed first before removing encroachments that comprised human settlements. It was also decided to immediately initiate work on reconstruction of level crossing on the tracks where needed.

According to a press statement issued by the Pakistan Railways, a comprehensive survey has been initiated on the existing track of the route to pinpoint the operational and maintenance parameters with prime focus on commuters' facilitation.

The statement reads that the Pakistan Railways has decided phase-wise revamping of the KCR project. In the first phase, the track from the Wazir Mansion station till the Drigh Road station would be made available for the routine to-and-fro local journey. The remaining track will be operationalised in the second phase.

On condition of anonymity, officials told The News that the authorities had decided not to demolish human settlements along the KCR track before February 21 when the Supreme Court would hear the case.

According to those officials, the Sindh government and the Pakistan Railways have decided to make some workable plan that they could share with the apex court regarding the resettlement of families living along the track. On February 7, the Supreme Court had directed the Pakistan Railways to remove all the encroachments along the KCR route in order to revive the project. On last Thursday, the Pakistan Railways announced to carry out an operation in the Gharibabad area in District South, which caused panic and anxiety among the residents.

A notice issued by the city railway station superintendent read that the people living up and down the KCR track were asked to vacate their homes because swift action would be started from Thursday onwards from the City Station to Drigh Road.

“The illegal occupants are also advised against resisting the anti-encroachment operation on the KCR track to be carried out by the Pakistan Railways,” stated the notice.

Regarding the possibility of resistance from the residents, a Pakistan Railways official had said that the authorities had followed due procedure by distributing flyers and notices in the area.

However, he added that the Sindh government and the Pakistan Railways would devise a plan to deal with any possible resistance.

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