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Pakistan

Web Desk
January 9, 2021

KCR project to now be looked after by Pakistan Railways

Pakistan

Web Desk
Sat, Jan 09, 2021

The Karachi Circular Railway project will now be looked after the Pakistan Railways, according to a decision announced by the federal government on Saturday.

This reverses the decision by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) to hand over the project to the Sindh government.

According to Geo News, the decision was reversed on the recommendation of the secretary of the Cabinet Division.

Therefore, all upgradation and operation work of the Rs739 billion project has been assigned to the Ministry of Railways.

Earlier, due to objections put forth by the ministry, the project had been handed over to the Sindh government.

In a parallel development, approval to include MQM Pakistan's Javed Hanif in the Karachi Transformation Plan Committee was accorded.

The project faced several setbacks before it became partially operational back in November.

SC orders revival

In February 2020, a three-member bench headed by CJP Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah had directed Pakistan Railways and Sindh government to remove all encroachments from the lands meant for the long-delayed circular railway system in the metropolis within six months.

Then, on November 10, the court issued a contempt notice to both over failure to revive KCR.

The bench directed Sindh chief secretary, railways secretary, and the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) director-general to appear in person and brief the court on why the project is still not operational.

"We will call everyone. If need be, even the premier and chief minister will be called," observed the top judge.

Project inaugurated

On November 19, Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed inaugurated the much-awaited project at the City Station in Karachi.

Addressing a post-launch ceremony, Ahmed said four trains will operate daily from Pipri to the City Station in the first phase. The fare has been decided at Rs30 per route while the traveling pass will be sold at Rs750.

Read: Karachi Circular Railway revived after 20 years

Ahmed said the KCR will also be extended to other parts of the city. "Rs1.8 billion have been earmarked for the project — out of which Rs17 million have been spent," he said. "A KCR coach cost Rs900,000."

Sindh chief minister issued contempt notice

Subsequently, on November 26, the apex court issued a contempt notice to Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah over failure to implement orders pertaining to the clearing of certain portion of the tracks.

During a hearing, the top judge observed that the work should have been completed in two months and asked the director general of Frontier Works Organization (FWO) to explain why the work has not started yet.

"We have submitted a design plan to the Sindh government and are awaiting approval," the FWO director general told the bench.

The bench issued a contempt notice to the provincial chief minister and show-cause notice to secretary railways, giving them two weeks to submit a reply. The hearing was adjourned till December 2.

The KCR project

Initiated in 1964, the old KCR route started from Drigh Road and ended in downtown Karachi. After suffering losses for years, it ceased operations in 1999.

The Karachi Circular Railways revival project includes the transformation of the old route into a mass transit system with the total length of the railway track expected to be 50 kilometers.