SC directs govt to complete ML-1 Railway project in 2 years

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Wednesday directed the government to complete the ML-1 Railway project in two years and Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) in three months.

The court remarked that there would be dire consequences if the timeline given for the completion of the railway projects was not followed strictly.

A three-member bench of the court headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah heard the case pertaining to the losses incurred by Pakistan Railways.

During the course of proceedings, Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid said that 85 per cent of the track for KCR had been cleared.

He said that the government carried out an operation and razed few buildings to the ground.

He assured the court that work was being done to make KCR functional again.

He said that he was grateful to the court as a lot of work had been done in the past 12 days.

Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed said that the KCR was a project for the people and not one individual and the court wanted to bring good to people.

He asked the minister did not handover the KCR project to the Sindh province as it would end up the Karachi transport system.

He also asked the railways minister why the KCR was made part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The minister stated that the government included it to CPEC because of the country’s financial situation.

The Chief Justice said that if railways sells off some of its land it would be able to fix its own financial situation.

Sheikh Rashid responded that selling a single property from Karachi will fix the railway’s financial system but the court had put a stay on selling these properties.

Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said that completing the project in three months would not be possible.

The Chief Justice addressing the Minister for Planning said that he was saying that this could not be done and the project would face delays. He said that people were waiting for it to be finished.

He asked Sheikh Rashid when would he cut the ribbon for the KCR project.

Asad Umar said that the country’s financial situation was not too well at the moment. The real issue was that a large amount of funding was required for the project, he added.

The Chief Justice said that the Japanese people had been asking the government over and over again about this project.

Asad Umar responded that the Sindh government would have to submit an answer for that.

Upon this, the bench summoned a reply on the matter from the Sindh government in the next hearing.

Asad Umar also pleaded the court for directions to the Sindh government to ensure action on the KCR project.

Addressing Asad Umar, the Chief Justice said that he was not doing anything for railways.

Asad Umar said that his ministry would present the 1,880 kilometres-long ML-1 project in front of the CDWP on March 10. The project would also be approved by Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on April 12, he added.

The Chief Justice asked about the timeline for the completion of the project.

Sheikh Rashid responded that the project would be finished in five years.

The hearing of the case pertaining to losses incurred by railways was adjourned for two months while the hearing on KCR was adjourned until February 21.

The next hearing about KCR would be held at the SC Karachi registry, where the railways minister and the Sindh chief secretary have been summoned.—APP

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