KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the authorities for completing the Karachi Circular Railways (KCR) project in six months, telling them to start work immediately, as well as to expedite its approval and other related issues.
The hearing of the mass transit project was held at Supreme Court’s Karachi Registry, with Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed presiding over the bench. The other members of the bench included Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah. During the proceedings, the top court ordered the Sindh government for providing complete support and facilities for work on the project and advised secretary Railways to cooperate with the provincial government. It further told authorities they had a two-week deadline to ask China for help in the matter. The Sindh government, however, responded by complaining of a lack of funds for the venture. “The work on the project will start when there in money,” Advocate General (AG) Salman Talibuddin told the court during the proceedings.
“If you cannot make railways in your own country, what exactly can you do?” the chief justice remarked during the hearing. “We should perhaps summon the prime minister and the chief minister to ask who will work on the project.”
On the other hand, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah remarked: “A government representative is working against the government today.” To which, the AG said the government would provide a definite answer on KCR’s plan and finances after “meeting the Chinese ambassador”. He said the Chinese were overseeing the project because it was affiliated with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
“The world is so far ahead but we have not acquired adequate competence even in 72 years,” the chief justice remarked, saying the KCR should be established in six months.
“You have continued to make it a joke despite our orders last year! All of you have jammed the networks yourselves. Don’t expand Karachi. Set up new cities,” Justice Ahmed remarked. To which, the AG said there was no new illegal construction going on at the moment. “It’s not that you’re unaware; you’ve been saying the same since a year,” the chief justice retorted.
The secretary Railways then mentioned that a land-grabbers’ group “became active in the past, and it’s on the railways’ lands now”.
The top judge spoke of his visit to Karachi, noting that he was “quite saddened” when he went to Nazimabad on Thursday. “I saw the conditions while on my way to the Sakhi Hasan graveyard. I was very disheartened. I saw piles upon piles of garbage and broken roads. There was trash everywhere. I know what North Nazimabad used to be like. What is being done to the most beautiful area of the past?”
The AG responded: “Yes, we know and understand.”
“There’s encroachment four kilometres from Kala Pul and people are staying there,” the secretary Railways chimed in. To which, Justice Ahmed asked: “How are people there? Who will end the encroachment? You should construct buildings and resettle people first and only then remove the encroachments,” he said. “There should be no compromise on what’s happening in Karachi.”
The apex court hinted that contempt notices would be issued to Prime Minister Imran Khan and Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah if the KCR was not made operational within the next six months.
The railways secretary assured the chief justice that KCR would be restored, however, the chief justice said the authorities must also take into account grievances of the citizens.