KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Friday ordered to make Karachi Circular Railways (KCR) functional in six months by removing encroachments on the land of the Pakistan Railways.
During the hearing at apex court’s Karachi registry, Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed warned of issuing contempt of court notices to Prime Minister Imran Khan and Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah if the concerned authorities fail to implement court orders.
Meanwhile, Sindh Advocate General Salman Talibuddin told the court that restoration of 24 gates of KCR is a difficult task over which, the CJP expressed resentment and asked why the work has not been initiated until now. “You people do not want to improve the system and just come up with long written stories,” he added.
Previously, the top court had sought a complete record of buildings exceeding ground plus two-floor structure in Karachi and directed the Sindh chief secretary to submit a comprehensive reply in two weeks.
The court also reprimanded the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) officials for destroying the beauty of Karachi for personal interests.
The Supreme Court also directed the railways and Sindh government authorities to carry out an operation for the removal of the encroachments from all the railway lands meant for the long-delayed Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) to ensure smooth operations of the transport facility for the public.
It further directed that such an operation be carried out with the aid and assistance of security forces all over the country.
The chief justice observed that the bench has still not been given any proper update of the KCR and its infrastructure, as neither the railways secretary has any instructions from the federal government nor the Advocate General of Sindh Salman Talibuddin from the provincial government.
In May last year, the top court had directed the Sindh government and related authorities to restore the KCR within a month, whereas in the last hearing this month, the SC had asked the government to complete the project within three months.
On Feb 3, the top court ordered the Ministry of Railways to complete the Karachi-Lahore-Peshawar track – known as the Main Line 1 project (ML1) – in two years and the KCR project in the next three months.
During the proceedings, the court had warned Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed of dire consequences, if the timeline given for the completion of the railway projects was not followed strictly. To which, he told the court that 85 per cent of the track for KCR has been cleared.
The CJP had also asked the railways minister why the KCR was made part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). “We added it to CPEC because of [our] financial situation,” Rasheed had responded.
“China will give an expensive loan for KCR,” the chief justice had observed.
“If railways sells off some of its land, it will be able to fix its own financial situation,” the chief justice had said. “Selling a single property from Karachi will fix the railway’s financial system. But the court has put a stay on selling these properties,” Rasheed had responded.
Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar, who had been summoned to present the business plan for railways to the court, said that completing the project in three months will not be possible.
“You are saying that this can’t be done […] the project will be faced with delays while people are waiting for it [to be finished],” said the chief justice, adding: “Pakistan Railways should not let its people sleep and order them to work.”