ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Railways has leased out around 6500 acres railway land across the country to different departments and private persons to generate extra revenue.

"The land was leased and licensed out for various purposes including premium shops, stacking, agriculture and parking stands etc," an official in the Ministry of Railways told APP.

He said that it is worth pointing out that Pakistan Railway earned a revenue of Rs. 4653.917 million as compared to Rs. 1578.136 million in previous four years.

Giving province wise breakup, the official said that Pakistan Railways has leased out 5,132 acres in Punjab, 833 in Sindh, 470 in KP and 59 acres in Balochistan.

To a question, he said that railway administration carried out six anti encroachment operations to retrieve its encroached lands. The official said that a total of 3594.488 acres Railway land has been retrieved with the assistance of Railway .

Police and District Administration since 01-2-2012 to December 2017. In the initial phase, started from February 2012, Railway land measuring 2537.166 acres was retrieved from encroachers.

To another question, he said that Pakistan Railways has retrieved 16.052 acres commercial land at Peshawar, Dargai, Mardan, Nowshera and Mardan stations from encroachers and un-authorized government departments.

"A detailed survey was carried out to identify encroached land, illegally occupied by the individual encroachers and un-authorized government departments," he added.

He said that a comprehensive policy has been drawn up to prevent further encroachments, adding this policy makes the concerned Pakistan Railway Official and Railway Police jointly responsible in case of any new encroachment. 

"Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and joint Procedure orders have since been issued for strict implementation of this policy," the official added.

He said that First Information Reports (FIRs) are being lodged and cases are registered and sent to Railway Judicial Magistrates for expeditious trial. "During the current campaign against the encroachers, 80 cases were registered and 78 accused were arrested during the anti-encroachment operations," the official added.

He said that as many as 77 cases have been decided by the courts so far in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the issue regarding illegal occupation/possession of Railway land by government institutions has also been taken up with concerned departments. The official said the encroachment campaign is being monitored by the Divisional Superintendents, Headquarters office and at the level of Ministry of Railways. 

He said that it is a fact that passenger train service on Nowshera-Dargai Charsadda-Mardan section has been discontinued since 31-01-2000 and there is no proposal under consideration to restore passenger train service on this section in near future.