KARACHI  -   Sindh Assembly Monday unanimously called the federal government to ensure its commitment to people of Karachi regarding the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR).

The debate on the adjournment motion that was tabled from PPP lawmaker Sadia Javed caused heated argument with treasury benches blaming federal government for delaying the project and opposition lamenting Sindh government over its continuous lack of interest in Karachi based project. The mover blamed the PML-N government in 1999 for scraping the project and said that even the 2002 government did not pay heed for its revival.

“It was PPP that carried out a survey on project from JICA in its 2008 tenure and since then two successive governments led by Nawaz Sharif and now whose Railway Minister is Sheikh Rasheed failed to make any headways in this regard,” she claimed and asked the federal government to divulge complete plan for removal of encroachments on the railway track and other issues of the project.

MQM-P lawmaker Khwaja Izharul Hassan blamed that the conspiracy to derail KCR project began during PPP tenure in 1988 when transport mafia joined hands with corrupt KCR officials and sold out key installations of the project.

“KCR would have been Asia’s biggest rail transport system if allowed to run properly as it was planned to have 104 trains on track and had initially accommodated 700000 passengers,” he said.

“None of the successive governments since 1988 allocated any funds for the project in PSDP except MQM-P that secured over 3 billion funds for the project and invited JICA in 2005 for a case study on it,” he claimed and added that in 2012 during PPPP tenure, the federal government refused a sovereign guarantee for the project demanded by JICA.

He, however, said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has vision for completion of the project and its inclusion in CPEC projects. “We are hopeful that the project will be completed during this tenure,” he expressed his confidence.

PML-F lawmaker Nusrat Sehar Abbasi criticized the PPPP for making federal government accountable for its four months and said that those ruling the province for 11 past years should also made themselves accountable.

“Why only 10 buses were launched during past PPPP tenure in Karachi despite promise to bring 600 buses on roads,” she said.

Another MQM-P lawmaker Javed Hanif said that the KCR project was scraped and the Karachi transport woes were not resolved as those ruling the country for past years do not have a stake in the city.

He blamed PPPP for destroying funding on study carried out by JICA despite the Japanese company’s nod to resettle the encroachment affectees.

The opposition leader responding to criticism from treasury benches said that they should told as to what they wanted from federal government and Karachiites for initiating the project.

He said that other than circular railway, JICA had identified other measures to resolve transport issues in the city including 29 routes where mass transit buses be run and be connected with circular railway.

JICA called for fencing on railway line to avoid increase in encroachment on the line that has increased from over 4000 households to 8000 households since then, he said adding that instead of implementing recommendations, the rulers remained busy in dumping looted money abroad.

Responding to opposition criticism, the Minister for Transport Awais Qadir Shah said that those criticizing should respond to three queries. “Is federal government serious in including circular railway project in CPEC, is KUTC under Sindh government and who is halting sovereign guarantee to the project?”

He said that those raising queries over delay in fencing of the track should ask from their railway minister as to why they had yet not given right of way to Sindh government on railway land for initiating fencing project.  “If they [opposition] are serious then allow us to work on railway land and we will complete fencing of the track,” he suggested.

On encroachment over tracks, the minister in a meaningful way towards the MQM-P lawmaker Khwaja Izhar ul Hassan said that if they [PPP] had the power to carry out encroachment in Karachi sometimes back.

The minister offered the opposition that if they are serious in completion of project then both sides representing federal and Sindh governments while setting aside their political differences should sit together and ensure fast track completion of the project.  The house also took up two call attention notices including one pertaining to delay in four solar projects from PPPP MPA Kulsoom Chandio.

The minister informed that that there are 35 wind and solar power projects in the province, that are yet to get approval for supplying electricity from federal departments.

He blamed the federal authorities for intentionally halting renewable energy projects that were given letter of Intent from the provincial government.

The house did not take up three call attention notices and consideration on a bill titled Sindh Institute of Child Health and neonatology.

A privilege motion from PTI lawmaker Haleem Adil Shaikh and an adjournment motion from Shahnaz Begum regarding overbilling by SEPCO in district Naushero Feroz were also not taken up due to absence of lawmakers.

The house proceedings that began almost 45 minutes late from scheduled timing at 2pm were adjourned for Tuesday morning by Speaker Sindh Assembly Agha Siraj Durrani.