The Senate was informed Friday that a massive 13,974 acres of land belonging to the Pakistan Railways had been encroached upon throughout the country, including 3,309 acres of its residential land.

In a written reply to a question by Senator Behramand Tangi, the Caretaker Minister for Railways Shahid Ashraf Tarar told the House that besides 5512 acres of agricultural land, 769 acres of commercial land 4,384 acres under the different heads had also been illegally occupied.He explained that out of the total illegally occupied land, 5948 acres were in Sindh and 5809 acres in Punjab. The minister said that various measures have been taken to retrieve the land across the country.The minister said joint procedure orders have been issued to all Divisional Superintendents of Pakistan Railways to retrieve the land from encroachers. Accordingly, the anti-encroachment operations for retrieval land all over the Railway network are being taken by the concerned divisions.Moreover, notices are issued to encroachers under Possession Ordinance 1965 for vacation of Railway land/structure within 14 days: Pakistan Railway Police, District Administration and law enforcement agencies are informed for necessary assistance in anti-encroachment operations; many other steps have also been taken.Replying to another question by Senator Dr. Zarqa Suharwardy, the Minister for Railways said Modified PC-1 of ML-1 Project was approved by ECNEC on 31-10-2022 with the plan to execute in three packages for $ 9.851 billion. The total completion time as per approved PC-1 for the Project is 9 years.However, the minister noted Pakistan Railways is of the view that reducing the cost of the project by optimizing the scope and the standards without compromising the underlying objective of safety and efficiency is the need of the time. He said the Federal Minister for Railways and Pakistan Railways officers at all levels participated in deliberations for cost-cutting of ML-1 and prepared a few options.Likewise, he said the option of up-gradation of ML-1 with rationalized scope & cost was principally agreed upon by the Prime Minister on 13.6.2023 and was also agreed by NRA during the 21st Technical Experts Conference meeting to readjust the design in line with the agreed changes.On 31st October, 2023, he explained, that the Adjustment of Design as per rationalized criteria has been submitted by M/s CREEC to Pakistan Railways which is under review. The Ministry of Railways has already requested the National Railway Administration, China to give its consent for the bidding process of Phase-I and the Chinese side’s response is awaited.A sum of Rs. 390 million, he said, has been incurred on the feasibility study and Rs. 10,641.634 million on the preliminary design of the project, The project has not yet been started. However, active negotiations are underway between the two sides to start the project.In a written reply to a question by Senator Dr Afnan Ullah, the Ministry of Information Murtaza Solangi said that the Pakistan Information Commission has so far received 3462 appeals, 1478 appeals are under process while 1984 stand disposed of.

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