Body formed to functionalize Hyd, Sehwan, Thar airports
KARACHI (June 24): The provincial government of Sindh and the federal government have unanimously decided to remove all the nags to start mega projects of national interest, including Karachi Circular Railway (KCR), laying of railway track to transport Thar coal to upcountry, functionalization of different airports and resolution of land dispute between provincial government and Civil Authority on top priority basis.
This emerged in a meeting held between Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and Federal Minister for Railways & Aviation Khawaja Saad Rafique along with their respective teams here at CM House on Friday. The CM was assisted by Minister Transport Sharjeel Memon, Advisor law Murtaza Wahab, Chief Secretary Sohail Rajput, Chairman P&D Hassan Naqvi, SMBR Baqaullah Unar, Commissioner Karachi Iqbal Memon, Secretary Energy Abu Bakar, Secretary Transport Haleem Shaikh. The Federal Minister was assisted by his team members, including CEO Railways Farukh Tamiur, Additional GM Railways Amir Baloch, CEO Railways Nisar Memon, DS Kashif Yusfani, PD KCR Ameer Daupoto and DG Aviation Khaqan Murtaza.
The chief minister said that Karachi was a megalopolis city and its traffic issues could only be solved with the establishment of a modern KCR system which would be supplemented and integrated with different BRT lines.
Tracing the history, Mr Shah said that the KCR was commissioned in 1964 and till 1984 it remained an effective mass transportation project. He added that after 1984 its operational efficiency kept deteriorating which resulted in reduction of ridership and subsequently closed in December 1999.
The CM said that the project was included in CPEC priority projects and was approved by the CPEC-related Joint Coordination Committee in December 2016. The ECNEC had approved the project at a cost of Rs207,546 million, including Chinese loan of $1.971 billion, he said and added the National Railway Authority, China had approved the feasibility being in conformity with Chinese standards in November 2017.
Mr Shah said that the project has been approved from all the relevant forums but on ground nothing has been done. Minister Railways Saad Rafiq said that the prime minister’s visit to China is scheduled shortly where he would accompany him. He added that the KCR was on the agenda of the discussion and hopefully it would be approved.
The project envisages construction of 43.225 km standard gauge dual carriage track urban rail mass transit system to be built within a period of three years. The total at grade section is 17.935 km and elevated is 24.21 km and underpass is 1.08 km. Out of 30 stations, 14 are at grade and 16 are elevated. The daily ridership is estimated at 457,608 which is expected to soar to one million per day.
Passenger carrying capacity per train is estimated as 814.
Transportation of Thar Coal: Coal Fields to New Chhor Halt station
The chief minister said that the time has come to fuel all the coal-fired power projects of the country with indigenous Thar coal. “This would not save the foreign exchange but would be cheaper than the imported coal,” he said and urged the railway minister to expedite laying of railway track from Thar Coal Mines to the main line.
The meeting, after thorough discussion on different tracks, finally approved a 105 km Thar Coal Fields to New Chhor Halt station on Mirpurkhas-Khokhrapar Section. It was decided that the existing signaling system on Mirpurkhas-New chhor section to be improved and two universal loops with a length of 700 meter on all crossing stations from Mirpurkhas to Chhor would be established.
The chief minister and the federal minister constituted a committee comprising a member, each one from Ministry of Finance and Planning Commission (for which CM and Minister Railways to federal Finance Minister Miftah Ismail and Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal), a member from Ministry of railways, Chairman P&D Sindh and Secretary Energy Sindh. The committee would analyze and recommend the financial and technical aspect for approval. The committee would give its report within a month so that work on the project would be started.
The chief minister disclosed that the project would be started on PPP mode for which some international companies have shown interest. However, international tenders would be issued, the meeting decided.
Airports: The chief minister took up another issue of functionalization of three airports, Hyderabad, Sehwan and Mai Bakhtawar Airport Thar.
The Minister Railways & Aviation said that his team has told him that there were some encroachment issues at Hyderabad Airport. Transport Minister Sharjeel Memon said that he would resolve the issue if the aviation agreed to functionalize the airport.
The meeting decided to send a technical team to study ways and means to functionalize the Hyderabad Airport. Similar inspections would be conducted of Sehwan and Thar Airport. The chief minister said that Thar airport was most important as character flights were landing there, therefore its functionalization has commercial value.
Sindh govt-Civil Aviation land issue:
The Chief minister told the visiting federal minister that around 80 acres of Sindh government land has been claimed by the Civil Aviation as its property near the airport. He added that the provincial government has to utilize it for the establishment of Depot for its Red Line BRT.
The meeting decided to resolve the issue amicably and constituted a committee with Chief Secretary, member Survey of Pakistan and Senior Member Board of Revenue and a member from Civil Aviation Authority to inquire into the matter and give its recommendation within a month.
The chief minister thanked federal minister Khawaja Saad Rafique for being resolute to resolve all the standing issues with his ministries.