Owners and residents of constructions erected up to 2013 to be compensated
Sindh’s chief minister has said the entire route of the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) will be made encroachment-free and the affected owners and residents of constructions erected up to 2013 will be compensated.
Murad Ali Shah took the policy decision at the CM House on Wednesday during a meeting to discuss the progress of and difficulties in the project for reviving the regional public transit system.
CM Shah clarified that all the encroachments that had appeared along the KCR route would be razed and the families who settled there before 2013 would be compensated before the project’s inauguration later this year.
The chief executive was informed that around 43.1 kilometres of the route was encroached on and the occupied length of the transit system was 21 kilometres. An annoyed Shah said the police, district administration and railways authorities were asleep when people started illegal constructions on the government land.
“Why are your people hand in glove with the occupiers? This is unacceptable! I’ll start holding officers at the helm accountable for encroachment on government land and damage to government property.”
Quoting a Pakistan Railways survey, Karachi Commissioner Ejaz Ahmed Khan said that around 5,000 illegal constructions in the form of houses and shops had appeared along the KCR route.
“In District South there are 421 houses: four kutcha [rickety] and 417 pucca [solid]. In District East there are 2,517 establishments: 448 kutcha and 1,700 pucca houses, and 369 kutcha shops.”
In District Central, he said, there were 733 constructions: 262 kutcha and 420 pucca houses, and 47 kutcha and four pucca shops. “In District West there are 1,002 establishments: 20 kutcha and 773 pucca houses, and 30 kutcha and 179 pucca shops.”
He added that the railways authorities were yet to conduct a survey in some parts of District South where around 300 illegal structures were believed to have appeared.
CM Shah said the survey conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) in 2013 showed that there were about 4,600 houses and shops on the KCR route.
“This may be taken as a policy decision that the houses and shops constructed before and up to 2013, as mapped by Jica, would be compensated on humanitarian grounds, and the encroachments in and after 2013 would be razed after serving them notices.”
He made it clear that he was against allowing anyone to encroach on government land and compensate them to vacate it. “We are considering old cases purely on humanitarian grounds.” The chief executive was informed that in the South, East, Central and West districts 3,173 houses and shops were constructed on up to 75 square yards of land, 688 over 75 and up to 125 square yards and 36 over and 125 square yards.
Transport Minister Nasir Shah said he had worked out that 48 excavators, 24 dumper trucks, eight loaders, eight gas cutters, 24 hand drills and 400 labourers would be required for the anti-encroachment operation.
Shah directed the minister to start serving notices to illegal owners and residents and then raze their houses, adding that fences should be erected after the operation to protect the KCR route.
“In September or October I’ll perform KCR’s groundbreaking ceremony, in which senior officials of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will be invited. That will be the beginning of a modern Karachi.”
He said the district and railway police, Anti-Encroachment Force, civic utility agencies and government agencies, such as Karachi Port Trust, National Highway Authority and Lyari Development Authority, would participate in the operation assigned to the transport minister.
The KCR meeting was also attended by Additional Chief Secretary (Development) Muhammad Waseem, Karachi police chief AIG Mushtaq Maher, Transport Secretary Taha Farooqui and Karachi Urban Transport Corporation Project Director Shaikh Talib Fatah.
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