Friday, June 14, 2019

Commissioner reviews KCR revival

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The progress of encroachments removal from tracks of the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR), being carried out on the orders of Supreme Court for revival of KCR, was reviewed at a meeting chaired by the Commissioner Karachi, Iftikhar Shalwani.

It was decided to continue the on-going operation against illegal encroachments on the KCR within 50/50 feet of both Right of Ways (ROWs) as per joint and collective plan chalked out on May 14 by the Pakistan Railways, Anti-Encroachment cell, local police and district administration. 

The Commissioner advised the Railways authorities to cancel leases of all their commercial entities within 50 feet ROW and remove them immediately without any further notice delay with the help of police and district administration.  
The respective Deputy Commissioners also briefed about progress of ongoing operation. They informed that operation within limits of their respective districts will be started as per plan to engage the people of the area to remove their illegal settlements and shift to safer places.

Commissioner Iftikhan Shalwani directed all DCs to carry out regular patrolling in their respective jurisdictions to ensure that the operation goes on in full swing and take steps to remove or demolish all commercial structures immediately. 

He said as per the SC direction no leniency will be shown to anyone in this regard and it would be implemented in letter and spirit. 

He sympathized with the affectees but said that they would be compensated or resettled with a proper rehabilitation plan to be submitted by the Pakistan Railways during the next week to Sindh government for implementation as per policy and commitment. 

Earlier the members of civil society and affectees of KCR led by Karamat Ali, Jibran Nasir, Faisal Edhi and others shared their views with the Commissioner before the review meeting on KCR. 

They apprised the Commissioner about their grievances and issues of affectees and asserted that it is the state responsibility to provide shelter to displaced people 

They dispelled the impression of being opposed to the KCR revival but they desired the plan to be implemented judiciously and not at the cost of people. 

The Commissioner assured them that their issues will be resolved as per the SC directions but also made clear that they have to comply with the SC directions in letter and spirit.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Commissioner visits YMCA, assures support

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Commissioner Karachi, Iftikhar Shalwani, undertook a detailed visit of the YMCA following a decision of the Supreme Court for removal of all encroachments and banning the commercial activities there.

Present during his visit were Assistant Commissioner, Aram Bagh, Muthair Watto, Principal, YMCA, Mushtaq Masih, Secretary, YMCA, Babur Paul and Director, Anti-Encroachment, KMC, Bashir Siddiqui. 

The YMCA Principal, Mushtaq Masih, informed the Commissioner following a SC decision, the YMCA has been participating in curricular and non-curricular activities since 1905. 

He stated that after 2007, these activities had to be stopped due to grabbing of the area of YMCA, However, now following the SC order and support lent by local administration, the organization planned to resume its academic activities. 

The Commissioner told the principal that after the Supreme Court's decision, the administration has fully cooperated to implement the same and now the whole community can serve more effectively in its traditional curricular and non-curricular activities like hockey, cricket, football and swimming.

He assured that regular consultation will be maintained, which will help restore the status of the institution's historical status. 

Commissioner Shallwani went round the auditorium, school, technical training building, library and a 50-room hostel and other parts of the YMCA. 

He was informed that an amount of Rs 45 million was lying with the Nazir of the court since 2007 and the same will now be utilized to carry out repair and renovation of the buildings including its hostel. 

Assuring of his full support, the Commissioner asserted that the amount will be utilized prudently for repair of schools, developing a landscape for recreation and leisure activities.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Khawaja Naveed clarifies news report

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News and Features Services)

Khawaja Naveed Ahmed, the defence counsel for accused in the 530 acres of land illegal allotment case, has clarified a news item appearing in a section of the press and electronic media alleging that he helped two accused in the case to abscond from the court after their interim pre-arrest bail order was recalled by a Division Bench of the Supreme Court. 

Khawaja Naveed, one of the most respected lawyers of the country, has clarified that the accused were on an interim pre-arrest bail for the last about two years and had attended Supreme Court as well as trial court at every hearing. 

According to him five witnesses in this case had been examined and the two accused had never missed any date of hearing. 

He stated that after recall of their interim pre-arrest bail, they were going to trial court to surrender themselves where the case was proceeding. 

He further stated that there was no point of their absconding because they had submitted cash security of Rupee five lac each which is still lying with the court. They could not imagine to abscond as their security was already with the court. 

Khawaja Naveed described the news as misleading and said the fact has been twisted to make it sensational. He said it’s a normal practice and we surrender the accused after their pre-arrest bail order is recalled or may be rejected.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Sindh government rolls out typhoid conjugate vaccine

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The children in the Lyari neighbourhood of Karachi, one of the areas worst-hit by the typhoid outbreak in Sindh, are receiving their first dose of the typhoid conjugate vaccine (TCV), the latest vaccine to be included in Pakistan’s routine immunization programme. 

The staff from Aga Khan University (AKU), working in partnership with the Sindh government, will inoculate over 100,000 infants and children between the ages of six months and 15 years by administering the vaccine at public and private sector schools and hospitals based in one of the city’s most densely populated towns. 

“This is the first step in a mass immunization campaign for Sindh. The vaccine is the most effective way to curb new cases and to protect children from a disease which is becoming increasingly expensive and difficult to treat,” Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, Sindh Health minister, remarked. 

Pakistan is the first country among low-income nations eligible for funding from GAVI, a global, public-private partnership committed to increasing access to immunization to include TCV in its nationwide schedule of vaccines against 11 preventable diseases. 

The decision is in line with the country’s commitment to end outbreaks of water-borne and communicable diseases in its efforts to meet goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

“Deaths and complications from typhoid were rare over the past 15 years but the ongoing outbreak has put an unprecedented number of children at risk,” Farah Qamar, an associate professor in paediatrics and child health at AKU, stated. 

“Efforts are underway to address the root cause of the outbreak failings in our water and sanitation system but in the meantime this vaccine represents the best way to save lives,” she added. 

Researchers from the AKU will analyze the data from the Lyari drive to understand factors determining the acceptability and efficacy of the vaccine which, in turn, will enable its successful rollout across the country from October 2019. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has disclosed that over 5,000 cases of XDR typhoid have been reported in the province to date. 

The scale of the outbreak led the Sindh government and private sector partners, such as the AKU and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, collaborating to launch an emergency vaccination drive in Hyderabad in January 2018. 

The faculty and staff at the AKU microbiology laboratory first detected the typhoid outbreak in blood culture tests from Hyderabad in October 2016. They collaborated with epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists from the University’s department of paediatrics to bring the matter to the attention of local government, the WHO, the US National Institutes of Health, the Sabin Vaccine Institute and the UK-based Wellcome Sanger Institute. 

Since then, the university’s researchers and its partners have collaborated on a number of studies to understand the genetic make-up of the typhoid strain, to ascertain risk factors for its geographic spread and to assess the safety and efficacy of TCV in an emergency outbreak situation. 

Data and policy implications stemming from these studies were shared with the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan and the federal government’s National Technical Advisory Group. 

This led to a successful application for funding from GAVI and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation resulting in the permanent inclusion of TCV in the country’s nationwide immunization programme, a win-win situation for stopping the spread of a preventable disease.

KMC directed to facilitate displaced shopkeepers

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Commissioner Karachi, Iftikhar Shalwani, has advised the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) to finalize the issue of 403 shopkeepers of Zoological Garden Market displaced during anti-encroachment drive launched on the orders of the Supreme Court.

“Concrete measures must be taken to provide alternate place to the affected shopkeepers for their business on priority basis,” he said in a meeting with the representatives of the affected shopkeepers of the Zoological Garden Market at his office. 

The delegation was led by its Vice President, Misbah-ul-Shams, General Secretary Asif Shahzad, Joint Secretary, Muhammad Munaf, Muhammad Intizar and Muhammad Asif. Deputy Commissioner South, Syed Salahudduin, and Deputy Director, KMC, Muhammad Alamdar, were also present on the occasion. 

The delegation apprised the Commissioner about their grievances and informed that they were displaced from their businesses on January 5 with a promise that they will be provided alternate place for their business.

However, despite the lapse of six months, they have not been compensated as yet nor accommodated at any other place. 

Commissioner Karachi, Iftikhar Shalwani, gave them patient hearing and assured that their problems would be solved on priority basis. 

He told them to remain open minded to accept the substitute place as per policy and record which will be given to them after due verification. 

He directed Assistant Commissioner (Revenue) to check the available record and submit report in this regard.

He also directed DC South to identify the alternate place for placement of affected shopkeepers. 

The Commissioner directed KMC to hold a meeting of affected shopkeepers with the Mayor and Municipal Commissioner to sort out their issues and to conduct a proper survey for alternative places. 

The DC South was told to keep vigil against illegal encroachments and check fruit carts near parking plaza, which might turn a permanent market and create problems in future.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Experts advise for KCR revival

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Experts on railway affairs have expressed surprise over the steps being taken for revival of Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) just with the removal of encroachments and clearance of tracks. 

They have noticed that in the meetings, being held to review ongoing anti-encroachment drive for clearance of tracks, the real issues that would surface once KCR operation started were not being taken into account. 

According to them, 35 years ago there were as many level crossings on the KCR. The population then was almost half of what it is today. All the expansion has been north of Karachi starting from Gulshan-e- Iqbal, Gulistan-e-Johar and all the way to the University of Karachi. 

They have reckoned that if you run trains at 30 minutes interval the level crossings will hardly remain open. And with the present psyche of Karachiites there may be protests and demonstrations at each level crossing. 

They have questioned that how many underpasses and overhead bridges could be expected to be built in the next decade by the Sindh Government which hasn’t met the challenge of keeping Karachi clean? 

The second important issue in this transport matrix is access to the KCR stations. Unless the stations have access to buses and auto-rickshaws or other public vehicles, people will shy away from using train. 

Unfortunately nearly all the stations on the KCR were locked in with encroachments all around. These two factors need to be addressed before running trains on the KCR.
One trial run with the help of Sindh Police and Rangers may be successful but without them the next could be a great mess-up. 

Of course trains from Malir to Karachi City can be run even today. In the past trains from Malir and Landhi were very popular. There were at least 40 commuters on the locomotive alone during the morning rush hour! 

At that time in the early 1970s, a former DTO reminded, these two trains used to take precedence over trains like Khyber Mail and Tezgam! 

With the development of encroachments around the stations on the KCR, in the early 1980s people lost interest in it and those were turned into haven for drug addicts. 

The experts believe that if KCR is to be made a success story it should be elevated from Malir to Wazir Mansion. 

The Sindh government should buy its own lightweight rolling stock from China under CPEC. They can then develop their own workshop at Wazir Mansion or Landhi for maintenance purposes.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Railways chief assures KCR revival in time

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Federal Secretary, Ministry of Railways, and Chairman, Pakistan Railway Board, Sikandar Sultan Jalal visited Karachi and held a meeting reviewing the ten-day ongoing anti-encroachment drive for revival of the Karachi Circular Railway KCR) under the directives of Supreme Court.

The Secretary Railways, in his remarks, stated that he’s regularly receiving progress reports with regard to ongoing ant-encroachment campaign to clear tracks for the KCR. 

He regarded the progress being satisfactory and appreciated the efforts of the teams undertaking the task. 

"Now we are able to submit a positive and implementable report to the SC."' he said and described as commendable the efforts being made and steps taken by Commissioner Karachi, Divisional Superintendent Railways and all team members. 

He pointed out that the KCR was most imperative for the people of this ever sprawling city and everyone involved is making efforts to pave the way for revival of the KCR within the stipulated time frame.

He pointed out that all leases issued by Pakistan Railways would be examined by DS Railway Karachi Division and legal action taken accordingly. 

The leases issued by the likes of Board of Revenue and Katchi Abadis department of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) would also be examined by respective agencies as per law and policy as per SC directives. 

Meanwhile, a 7 Members committee is being constituted with all stakeholder, departments and concerned to carry out basic homework and legal formalities for revive the KCR and to work out a most modern urban transport system on priority basis to meet the commuting needs of the people of this metropolis.

Federal Secretary Railways Sikandar Sultan Jalal lauded the efforts of Sindh government in the entire scenario and the steps taken by the Commissioner Karachi and said the Railways will extend its all cooperation to them to start the KCR project in time. 

The Commissioner Karachi, Iftikhar Shallwani, while welcoming the Federal Secretary Railway briefed him about on-going operation and said everyone involved was working for the accomplishment of this most important task. 

He assured that a positive and comprehensive report will be submitted to SC and measures taken accordingly for revival of KCR by Sindh Government for the people of Karachi.

The meeting was briefed by respective Deputy Commissioners about their progress of operation at their individual levels. 

They drew attention towards many important aspects to operation and revival of KCR. 

They reaffirmed of their determination for attainment of result oriented targets. 

The DS Railways, Syed Mazhar Ali Shah, and DIG Operation PR, Azhar Rasheed Khan, also briefed the visiting Secretary about steps taken and progress achieved so far during the operation. They hoped that the encroachments removed would not be allowed to resurface. 

Earlier Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shallwani met the Federal Secretary and discussed important KCR related issues and its revival under SC directives. He reiterated his proposal for a trial run of a train on KCR route.