ISLAMABAD: The cash-starved Pakistan Railways informed the Supreme Court on Tuesday that it had salvaged 67.635 acres of the 5,055 acres of land illegally occupied by government institutions and individuals. But the court termed it an unsatisfactory performance.
Gaining strength from the court’s previous order, Railways had launched an anti-encroachment drive on Feb 1 to retrieve its land. On Dec 27 last year, the apex court had asked chief secretaries of the four provinces as well as federal interior and defence secretaries to suggest ways of getting vacated Railways land encroached upon by different government departments, including the armed forces.
Advocate Rai Mohammad Nawaz Kharal informed a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry hearing a case relating to corruption in Railways that of the 5,055 acres encroached land, 704.57 acres are farmland, 738.45 acres commercial and 1,617.99 residential.
A large chunk of 607.25 acres is occupied by the Rangers, 161 acres by the Frontier Corps in Balochistan and 92.65 acres by the army.
Railways has yet to take back 4,987.36 acres of land and its board will meet on Feb 23 to discuss the matter.
The court directed the interior and defence secretaries to submit reports on the status of property under the use of law-enforcement agencies and convey its directives to all chief secretaries to expedite the retrieval of land without any discrimination.
The railways secretary has been asked to appear before the court on Feb 27.
Meanwhile, the railways additional secretary informed the court that under a public-private partnership, a business train had been launched on Feb 3.
Shalimar Express, a joint venture of the public-private partnership, will be inaugurated on Feb 24.
It will run between Lahore and Karachi.
Railways and the National Logistic Cell (NLC) have signed an agreement for the repair of 30 locomotives. Two to three locomotives will be rolled out each month on receipt of spares to be procured through funds provided by the NLC.
The estimated cost of repair is Rs1.3 billion from original equipment manufacturers. By the end of this month, 15 more locomotives will be repaired and added to the running fleet.
NAB’s Additional Prosecutor General Akbar Tarar submitted a report on investigation into the award of bulk scrap contracts and said the contractors had agreed to pay the differential amount of Rs440 million to Railways.
About the illegal lease of 141 acres of land to the Royal Palm Golf Club, he said the inquiry had been converted into an inves- tigation and the Mainland Hussain Construction Company had approached for renegotiating the agreement.
Mr Tarar said the company had agreed to a lump sum payment of Rs12.85 million and land usage charges of Rs216 million per year with a 15 per cent increase after every three years.
The proposal has been forwarded to the ministry concerned for concurrence.