Karachi Circular Railways project ground breaking announced

Karachi Circular Railways project ground breaking announced

Islamabad: Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development, and Reforms directed Railways ministry and government of Sindh to make every effort to ensure groundbreaking for the project of Revival of Karachi Circular Railways (KCR) by December 25, 2017 saying that any unnecessary delay in the project would be considered any unnecessary delay would not be tolerated.

"So far as this very important project is concerned, all institutions including federal and provincial political leadership, federal and Sindh governments, railways ministries, provincial transport ministry are on board  and above all this project has been included in the mega project of national interest China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) then why unnecessary delay was occurring" Senator Col (R) Tahir Hussain Mashhadi said while presiding over the meeting of the committee held here on Monday.

He directed the authorities concerned to arrange the meeting of the two committees working under Federal Ministry of Railways and Government of Sindh on the matter of Right of Way (ROW) and encroachment issue which is the main cause of delay in the project and send its recommendation to the committee within 15 days.

Director General Planning, Ministry of Railways, Mazhar Ali Shah informed the committee that the feasibility report and PC-1 of the project had already been approved however, framework of agreement and award of commercial contract was yet to be done, so apparently groundbreaking of the project by December 25, 2017 seemed an ambitious target.

On this Senator Sherry Rehman expressed dissatisfaction over the Railways Ministries' progress in this regard and said that if there is will to ensure groundbreaking by the set date then all the issues can be resolved within 48 hours.

Briefing about the project, Secretary Transport Sindh Saeed Awan informed the committee that work on clearing of encroachments on the way of KCR was stopped due to some unknown reasons. He said this project costing $1.9 billion was approved by Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) in its meeting held on October 6, 2017.

He said this project was initially started in 1962 which worked successfully until 1984 however it was closed down in 1999. Now the revival of this project was being made possible due of CPEC which is scheduled to be completed in 36 months. The meeting was further informed that 550,000 commuters would benefit from 43 kilometer long rout of KCR daily and per head fare would be Rs 30.

The Committee Chairman said that this project was of great importance as over 20 million people of the economic hub were very enthusiastic about the project.Earlier discussing on Sahiwal Coal Power Plant the meeting was informed that the both units of the plant were operating successfully and were fully contributing to national grid.

Additional Secretary Ministry of Energy, Musaddiq Ahmed Khan informed the committee that the 1320 MW power plant was based on Independent Power Producers (IPP) mode and was established under Country's Power Policy. He said the plant would produce 9039 GWh (9039 billion units) electricity annually, and it would require 3.1 million ton of imported coal annually at a cost of $434 million.

He informed that currently per ton of coal is costing around $140 million. He said currently the coal was being imported from South Africa, Australia, and Indonesia, however once coal from Thar is available, the Indonesian coal would not be imported as its efficiency was same as that of Thar coal.

Senator Sirajul Haq pointed out that why a huge amount of $30 per ton was being spent in respect of transportation cost from Port Qasim Karachi to Sahiwal instead of constructing the plant at a place near to the port adding that the environment issue would also be another factor in the densely populated area of Punjab.

The additional Secretary clarified that as another 1320 MW coal power plant was already under construction near Port Qasim so it was not feasible to construct another such plant in the same area.

Moreover, he said since maximum load of electricity was being utilized in the middle of Punjab so evacuation of electricity from Port Qasim through Transmission Lines would caused huge line losses. He said there was negligible effect of pollution due to this plant as super critical technology was used in this plant.

To another question from Senator Mohsin Khan Leghari, he clarified that brand new machinery was used in Sahiwal Coal Power Plant and rejected the perception that since this project was working under CPEC therefore China had installed the used technology.

Senator Mohsin Khan Leghari raised another point saying that use of extra amount of water from nearby canals for purpose of cooling of the plant would result in less water for agricultural land of that area.