The Supreme Court expressed on Friday its anger at the Sindh government for not having any backup plan for the revival of the Karachi Circular Railway.
“The government is totally dependent on China for the KCR,” said Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed while hearing the case at the Karachi Registry. “China is not responsible for Pakistan.”
He asked: What if China backs out? What will you do then?
Sindh Advocate-General Salman Talibuddin said that the Sindh government can’t do it on its own. “It is a $2 billion project and we don’t have enough funds.”
The top judge asked him if the CM can submit that in writing. The Pakistan Railways just has to sell one plot and it will solve all their funding issues, he added.
The Chinese government will confirm in one or one-and-a-half months if they will take on the project or not, said the advocate-general.
The government hasn’t even thought of an alternate plan, remarked Justice Faisal Arab. There is no planning or order in Karachi, he added.
Advocate-General Talibuddin started the hearing by telling the court that there has been a “significant development” in the KCR case. He said that it will have 24 gates, 14 elevated stations and 10 stations on the ground.
The top judge said that it is already known that there will be elevated stations. “You bring new plans every day,” he said sternly.
“Is it so difficult to make a 42-kilometre railway line in Pakistan? Can we not do it? Do we not have the capacity?”
The court was informed that the Railways secretary will meet the Chinese ambassador on February 25 during which it will be decided how long it will take them to complete the project.
The top court noted that encroachments are increasing on KCR land and nothing has been done to stop new encroachments or remove them. It said that the Railways land in Gulshan-e-Iqbal has been encroached on and housing societies have been built on it. The court has given the Railways secretary a week to issue notices to all such occupants and ask them to vacate the property.
The court even issued stay order on the interim order passed by the high court on fraudulent, forged and illegal documents, adding that immediate action should be taken to secure the land.
The Railways Department and Sindh government have been ordered to carry out drives with the assistance of security forces and submit weekly reports in court.
The government has been directed to ensure the reallocation of people who will be affected by the encroachment drive. The court told them to settle them in houses with gas, water and sewage facilities, as well as road connectivity.
To this, the advocate-general asked the court not to remove people from their houses. More than 6,000 people are homeless now, he added.
You have been saying this for two years now, said Justice Ahmed. “Do you even think about the people? Have you built any new road in Lyari? You won’t have an answer to that because no work has been done for the people.”
The case has been adjourned till March 6 and the Railways, planning and Sindh government secretaries ordered to appear in court.