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ISLAMABAD: Railways Ministry has demanded Rs 35 billion under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for 2022-23 for the ongoing and new development projects. This was revealed before the Senate Standing Committee on Railways, which met with Muhammad Qasim, here on Tuesday.

Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati also revealed before the parliamentary panel that the electricity worth of Rs 2 billion was being stolen annually of Pakistan Railways. The committee discussed in detail the proposed PSDP plan and future strategies of Pakistan Railways.

The panel also ratified Senator Faisal Saleem Rehman as member of the Railway Advisory Committee. While reviewing details of the PSDP tentative allocation of Rs 35 billion for 2022-23, Minister for Railways Swati informed the committee of the strides that Pakistan Railways had made in the last 10 months.

He urged the committee to fully support the PSDP, so that the Railways could be revived in Pakistan. He added that if the provinces played their part, the sector could be revolutionised spreading business and trade opportunities far and wide.

The committee was informed of plans to develop the Afghan/Pakistan transit trade route. Swati said that tourism would be enhanced, if historical railway routes and stations are revived. Discussing the Rs 220 billion Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) Project in Karachi, Swati informed the Committee once completed this would revolutionise domestic travel in the Metropolis.

He said that seed money has been arranged and that completion of the project will take 36 months. Discussing future plans the committee was informed that Pakistan Railways would dynamically pursue the expansion of routes and take these beyond borders.

It planned to develop Chaman/Kandahar route and the Havelian/Kashghar route that will promote international trade. The committee lauded the efforts of the ministry, despite lack of funds and assured it of its complete support.

“The theft of electricity has can be prevented by installing over 54,000 meters,” the minister said. Swati said that Pakistan Railways was running a freight train from Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul and also planning to launch passenger train in near future on the route.

He urged the government of Balochistan to provide Rs 15 billion for the restoration of Taftan to Quetta track, remaining to be spent by the federal government that would help to put the provincial government on the path of progress and prosperity.

The minister said Balochistan government would show responsibility for the cargo train on the track between Taftan to Chaman, adding that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government was restoring the old track from Peshawar to Torkham.

Mirza Muhammad Afridi asked the Ministry of Railways to introduce fast train, and freight trains would help to reduce deficit of Pakistan Railways that would be increased.

He said that there were around $4,000 billion of cargo business in the country and out of the total, if 30 to 35 percent would get Pakistan Railways that would change the financial position of the department.

Swati briefed the committee that the state enterprise was controlled by the mafia and tender for more than 1,500 trains were being awarded to one man. The minister offered the members of the Senate and the National Assembly committees to visit the seven upgraded railway stations where they can suggest for build hotels, hostels or markets.

The committee was also informed that Rs 403 million were earmarked under the head of security for ML-1 project under the CPEC. The meeting was attended by Deputy Chairman Senate, Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi, Senator Dost Muhammad Khan, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, and senior officers of the Ministry of Railways along with all concerned.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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