RAWALPINDI, Nov 4: Pakistan Railways` (PR) 155 acres in Rawalpindi division have been encroached by government departments including Joint Staff headquarters, private housing societies and Defence Housing Authority (DHA).
This was stated by a railway official during a meeting of National Assembly`s Standing Committee on Railways sub committee here on Friday at Rawalpindi railway divisional offices. The meeting was chaired by sub-committee convener MNA Ramesh Lal. The other members of the committee were MNAs Dr Talat Mahesar, Dr Ayub Sheikh and Pir Mohammad Aslam Bodla.
Divisional Superintendent Munawar Shah said that the Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA) Chakwal occupied 13.54 acres of railway land; Joint Staff headquarters, Rawalpindi 36.91 acres; Housing Directorate, Defense Housing Authority (DHA) Rawalpindi 8 acres; Punjab Housing and Physical Planning Department 7.75 acres, private bodies 58 acres, Katchi Abadis 18 acres whereas 12.75 acres were encroached in the shape of roads in different localities by the Punjab government.
The railway authorities had managed to retrieve 30.5 acres from encroachers in different areas of Rawalpindi till October 2011,” he said and added that the efforts were being made to reclaim the remaining land.
The meeting was also informed that railways has 15,838 acres in Rawalpindi Division, 10,068 acres were in operational use including railway stations, colonies and other installations. A total 456 acres were given on lease including 414 acres for agricultural purposes and 42 acres for commercial purposes. Total 500 acres of railway land consisted of mountains and was non-productive.
About the future plans, the meeting was informed that the PR planned to lease out 115 acres in Rawalpindi division for commercial purposes and 200 acres for agricultural purposes to earn money.
Committee convener Ramesh Lal asked railway authorities to arrange the visit of the locations where the railways` land had been encroached. Upon this, the railway officials took the committee members to I-11 and Marir Chowk on Friday where the railway authorities removed encroachers.
However, the railway officials promised to arrange the inspection of the encroached lands within 15 days. They said that the members would apprise the committee about the land revenue record of the area.
The members also visited Rawalpindi Railway Station and found the stallholders overcharging customers of packed food items and tea.
When Ramesh Lal inquired the tea stallholders about the price of a cup of tea, he said the tea was available at Rs10 per cup but a passenger refuted the claim and said that he had been charged Rs20 per cup. The members recommended action against the stallholders.
While talking to Dawn , Ramesh Lal said that the railway officials informed the meeting about the encroached lands by government departments. He said that the members wanted to inspect the area along with the revenue record and would take steps for retrieving the encroached land.
He said the basic aim of the committee was to improve the condition of Pakistan Railways so that the middle class and poor segments of the society would get better facilities through this mode of traveling.
He said that the government was taking steps to run the Railways on modern lines and talks were under way with the US and China to induct the latest technology in Pakistan Railways.
He said no effort would be spared to make the Railways stand on its feet once again adding that sufficient funds had been released for the procurement of locomotives. Damaged locomotives would be repaired with assistance of US or China.
Divisional Superintendent Munawar Shah told Dawn that Rawalpindi Railways Division would bring five repaired locomotives in the system from Saturday and it would run special Eid train from Rawalpindi to Multan on Saturday and from Rawalpindi to Lahore on Sunday to facilitate the maximum number of people during Eid days.
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