Railways acquires 71 acres of land in Gwadar to expand operations

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Railways acquires 71 acres of land in Gwadar to expand operations

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Railways has acquired 71 acres of land in Gwadar from the Balochistan government to expand its operations to the port city with emphasis on projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Minister for Railways Saad Rafiq informed the Senate Standing Committee on Railways on Thursday that arrangements were being made to pay Rs130 million dues to the Balochistan government for the purchase of 71 acres of land.

He said the government was expanding Pakistan Railways’ operations under the CPEC and more land was being acquired in Gwadar for setting up railway terminals, yards and tracks.

Mr Rafiq said the railways ministry would not take decisions in haste on railways projects under the CPEC and they would be implemented after a thorough scrutiny.

The government will seek loan from the Asian Development Bank for the Main Line-1 (ML-1) project which would convert the Lahore-Peshawar Main Line -1 (ML-1) into double-track.

The project is one of the early harvest projects under the CPEC.

He said that in order to upgrade the railways system from Peshawar to Karachi, preliminary estimate showed that the project would cost at least $8.2 billion, and in this regard negotiations were under way for investment by the Chinese.

A framework agreement was also discussed during his recent visit to China, he said.

The minister said that multiple financing was allowed under the CPEC framework, and the railways ministry was currently preparing a feasibility study for the Main Line-2 (ML-2) project which would be ready in three months.

The project would be under the CPEC and a contract for the project would be awarded on the basis of international tendering.

He said the project would either be completed on the basis of build, operate and transfer or would be a joint venture.

He informed the committee that the feasibility study on laying tracks between Gwadar and Bisma would be finalised by February next year when a technical report on the alignment of tracks would be ready.

On the issue of illegal use of railways land by the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) and a private hospital in Bahawalpur, the minister informed the committee that the Punjab chief minister had issued orders to resolve the matter.

The Bahawalpur DCO and the Punjab Revenue Board had accepted their mistake for illegally allotting the land to the DHA and the private hospital, he said.

The chairman of the standing committee, Sardar Fateh Mohammad Hasni, directed the railways ministry to ascertain from the provincial governments as to where and in which location the railway land had been encroached.

He suggested that the railways improve its system through commercialisation of its land.

Agreeing to the proposal, Mr Rafiq suggested a joint meeting of the parliament’s standing committees on railways to take a decision in this regard and it would be implemented by the railways ministry.