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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court issued contempt notice to Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah for not approving the design plan of the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) and not awarding its contract to the FWO. A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, on Thursday heard a case related to colossal loss to Railways.

The chief justice said the work on KCR should have been completed within two months; however, its order had not been implemented as yet. The overhead bridges and other works still remained to be completed. The CJP inquired from the director general Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) why the construction work had not started as yet.

The DG told the court that they had submitted a design plan to the Sindh government and were awaiting its approval. He also said the Sindh government had not awarded the contract to them. In the last hearing, Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed had said: "If no progress is made on KCR then they will summon everyone," adding, "if need be then they will summon the prime minister and the chief minister, Sindh."

The Court, had issued notices to secretary Pakistan Railways and chief secretary Sindh for not complying with the apex court's directions for making KCR operational within timeline.

Secretary Railways and Chief Secretary, Sindh, were ordered to file replies to explain why contempt of court proceedings should not be initiated against them for defying the court's order.

Habibur Rehman Gilani, secretary/chairman on November 10, 2020, said that they had taken the images of the KCR route with the help of Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) and written letters to the FWO.

The Secretary Railways said that there was no impediment from the Railways or the Sindh government. The official of the Sindh government said that work on KCR's restoration project was going on day and night, and the KCR would be operational within time-line given by the Supreme Court.

The apex court in February this year had ordered to make KCR functional in six months by removing encroachments from the land of the Pakistan Railways. According to reports, in August 2020, the federal government approved a Rs10.5 billion rehabilitation package for the KCR restoration.

The funding is slated to cover only Phase-I and Phase-II of KCR's restoration project, similar to the restoration of the Karachi-Peshawar Railway Line. The KCR came into being during President Ayub Khan's regime, who in 1962 suggested the use of trains as a means for short travel in Karachi.

The case was adjourned for two weeks. The KCR resumed its service after two decades on November 19 as Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed inaugurated the service.

The minister held a news conference, and said all equipments, which will be used towards the restoration of KCR have been shifted to Karachi. The KCR includes 40 coaches and 15 are on track today, he said, while adding that the project would be modernized within one year.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020