People affected by the anti-encroachment drive to restore the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) will be provided houses in a year, assured Sindh Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani.
The Supreme Court had called for the restoration of the KCR on May 9. The court also ordered the people whose houses were demolished in the drive to be accomodated, Ghani said.
However, the minister followed this by saying that one year is a long time to keep someone homeless. “We are trying our best to accommodate the people as we understand it is impractical to leave someone without a house for a year,” he told SAMAA TV on its show Naya Din on Thursday.
Ghani said over 4,500 houses would have to be built to accommodate these people.
Railway SSP Shehla Qureshi said there is a zero tolerance policy for residential units being set up in the cleared areas. “We will file FIRs against people who try to come back and live in these areas,” she warned.
People built houses and shops on land that belonged to the Pakistan Railways and the operation to evict them was met with a lot of resistance.
The project started on May 15. It has been completed in District East but over 30% of the tracks still have to be cleared in District Central.
Many attempts have been made to clear the track before but with little success.
Last December, the Railways authorities conducted an operation to clear the track with the assistance of the Central district administration and Karachi Metropolitan Corporation. The operation ended after only 7.2km of track was cleared in District Central.
The operation started from Gharibabad’s furniture market and ended near North Nazimabad. The drive was moved to District West but nothing was done after that.
The 44km KCR track passes through different districts of Karachi. Many people have built shops, houses and other constructions on the track and the government is working to remove them on the Supreme Court’s orders.