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January 20, 2015

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Japan balks at Karachi Circular Railway project

TOKYO: Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) project worth some $2 billion could be at risk as the Japanese government balks at project after a spate of land ownership disputes, official sources said on Monday.
They added that the Japanese government expressed its inability to carry out the project after it was wrongly accused of land grabbing.
The sources said some nongovernment organisations in Pakistan had filed a suit in the court against the land grabbing, enlisting the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) one of the respondents.
“This hurt the Japanese government and became one of the reasons of its withdrawal from the KCR revival plan,” an official in the diplomatic circle said on condition of anonymity.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who was informed of this during his recent visit, expressed his deep concern over the Japanese government’s decision.
“Nobody, be it individual or NGO, should bring the Japanese government into the court of law over this matter,” he told The News.
“Japan is our friend, and wanted to help Pakistan to build infrastructure projects,” he said.
Senator Dar said the government will engage Attorney General to resolve the legal issues confronting JICA and other sides.
“I will discuss with the Japanese government to continue this important project for Pakistan,” he said.
The sources said that land grabbers under the garb of NGOs were making hue and cry and alleging that their lands were being misappropriated.
JICA had pledged funding for the development and revamping of infrastructure needed to revive Karachi Circular Railway.
However for the last 10 years, the project has not seen the daylight, bringing up the project cost. The initial estimate for the KCR revival was around $1.2 billion, the official said.

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