Strongly opposing the plan to demolish residential units along the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) track, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) parliamentarians on Friday asked Federal Railways Minister Shaikh Rashid to start clearing encroachments from the Pakistan Railways’ land from his constituency in Rawalpindi before demolishing houses in Karachi.
The PTI lawmakers also criticised the Pakistan Railways’ officials for misguiding the apex court about the ground situation and demanded the removal of the railways secretary and other officials.
A delegation of the PTI lawmakers, headed by Firdous Shahim Naqvi, who is also the leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly, met Nisar Memon, Pakistan Railways divisional superintendent (DS), to discuss the ongoing anti-encroachment drive aimed at clearing the KCR track. Khurrum Sher Zaman, Ali Arsalan, Bilal Ghaffar and Raja Azhar were also in the delegation.
After meeting Memon, Naqvi told the media that the Railways officials had assured the apex court of initiating the KCR project within three months. “After our meeting with the DS Railway, it is clear that there is no possibility of making KCR project functional in the given time,” the PTI leader said. “We request the apex court to understand the ground realities and take the matter in a humanitarian context. Before the release of the detailed order of the apex court, Pakistan Railways officials have started demolishing the houses.”
“We asked the Railways DS how much land the Railways need for the KCR project and he did not give us an adequate answer,” he said. “The PTI will demand the removal of not only the Railways DS but also the Pakistan Railways secretary.”
The PTI leader strongly opposed the idea of demolishing the housing units along the KCR track without implementing a proper rehabilitation and fair compensation plan. “The apex court had clearly written to start demolitions after making housing arrangements for the affected people.”
Citing the extensive survey initiated by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), he said the KCR project needed 72-foot radius while the Railway officials were demolishing the houses by increasing that limit even up to 200 feet.
He said several years had passed by but not a single plan had been formed to provide alternative housing arrangements to the people who were unaware of the illegality of the land at the time of purchasing.
Terming the demolitions injustice, Naqvi said the poor and working class had been bearing the brunt of the irregularities and corruption committed by government officials. “The PTI demands arrests of the Railways and building authority officials whose nexus had allowed encroachments on the government land in the past,” he said.