Murad Ali Shah-Shaikh Rasheed met at CM House in Karachi

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KARACHI: The Sindh government and Pakistan Railways on Monday decided to resolve all the pending issues related to the Karachi Circular Railways, including handing over federally owned Karachi Urban Transport Company (KUTC) and Right of Way (RoW) to the provincial government so that the KCR project could be started by getting its financial approval from CPEC-related Joint Coordination Committee, scheduled to meet in Beijing in April this year.

This decision was made in a meeting between Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and Federal Railways Minister Shaikh Rasheed at the CM House.

The meeting was attended by Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, Advisor law Murtaza Wahab, PSCM Sajid jamal Abro, Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shahalwani, Secretary Transport Abbas Detho. The federal Minister for Railways was assisted by Secretary / Chairman Railways Habib-ur-Rehman Gilani, CEO / Sr. GM Railways Dost Ali Leghari, DS Railways Nisar Memon, , DG Planning Railways Syed Mazhar Ali, Addl. General Manager railways Furrukh Taimoor.

Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah giving chronology of the KCR to the federal railways minister said that on December 3, 2016 he had requested the prime minister to include KCR under CPEC framework, issue Sovereign Guarantee for its revitalisation.

He said that then prime minister [Nawaz Sharif] approved all his requests and formed a committee on the issue of handing over RoW to KUTC, therefore the matter was delayed. He added that the revival of the KCR was agreed in sixth JCC meeting held on Dec 29, 2016 in Beijing. The chief minister said that on October 6, 2017 ECNEC approved KCR project at the cost of Rs207.6 billion ($1.97 billion) through Chinese loan. The Transport & Mass Transit Dept issued administrative approval of the project on Nov 8, 2017.

According to the chief minister the KCR was technically qualified and matured for implementation in the 7thJCC meeting held on November 21, 2017. In 8thJCC meeting held on December 20, 2018 the importance of the KCR was recognized and in the 9thJCC meeting held in islamabd on November 6, 2019, the Chinese side stated that the Pakistan Government should submit the financing request to the Chinese side.

Mr Shah said that he had held a meeting with Chairman CPEC Authority Lt Gen Asim Bajwan in Islamabad who had assured that the KCR project would be implemented in true letter and spirit.

The chief minister said that in KUTC in which federal government owned 60 percent shares and provincial governed owned 40 percent shares had not been handed over to Sindh government so that a consultant could be appointed to carry forward the KCR matters. At this Federal Minister Shaikh Rasheed told the chief minister that he was handing over KUTC to Sindh government. For the purpose, a committee under Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah and Federal Secretary Railways was constituted to finalise the formalities and arrangements of handing over KUTC to Sindh government within a month. The chief minister said that the KUTC would have to file an application with SECP for change of administration.

Talking about removal of encroachment along the KCR route, the chief minister said that out of 38 kilometers, 33 km have been cleared and only five kilometers were left. The commissioner said that the remaining portion would also be cleared from the encroachers when Pakistan Railways came up. At this Railway Minister and the chief minister constituted another committee under Commissioner Karachi with DS Railways Karachi and other concerned offers as its members for removal of the remaining part of the KCR route. The committee has been directed to clear the way within a month and report the government. The issues pending with railways include Topography survey and Geotechnical investigation of Section of ML-1 overlapping with route of KCR, that is City Station to Drigh Road is yet to be completed. The design of the section would be started upon completion of the geo-technical investigation and topographic survey, said the chief minister. The chief minister said that signing of Framework Agreement pending in the Ministry of Planning & Development for its concurrence from federal cabinet and onward transmission to the National Development & Reform Commission, Beijing, China. He also added that the Concessional Financing request was pending in the Economic Affairs Division of Federal government which has to forward the request through Embassy of China, In Islamabad to the Ministry of Commerce, Beijing China. He also said that issuance of Sovereign Guarantee was pending with Finance Division. “It should be expedited for achieving comfort of financial institutions,” he said.

The federal minister for railways assured the chief minister that his ministry would extend maximum cooperation to start the KCR project at the earliest. It was also agreed that the affected people of KCR would be rehabilitated by constructing their houses on Railway Land, where available.

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