Lip service for Karachiites: no funds for KCR in Sindh budget

KARACHI: The revival of the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) is in doldrums as the Sindh government has not allocated any fund for this project in the provincial budget 2014-15 that was presented by Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah in Sindh Assembly last evening. Previously the government had formed a three-member ministerial committee to revive the KCR and dozens of statements were also issued the government was fully committed to revive this lingering project. This year when the provincial budget was presented, Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) the biggest political stakeholder of Karachi was also in the treasury benches.  The only public transport scheme for Karachi is construction of Bus Rapid Transit (Green Line), however, its status in the budget documents is given as ‘Unapproved’. The revival of KCR is necessary for boosting economy of Karachi and giving an efficient public transport system to its people, said Atiq Mir of Karachi Tajir Ittehad. He said though there were budgetary allocations for some mass transit bus lines, a project announced in past however, the public transport issues of Karachi could not be solved with giving the city a rail-based public transport system. He said in provinces like Sindh where the good governance badly lack this kind of budget was windfall for corrupt elements, as up to 80 percent of government funds often went in the pockets of corrupt bureaucracy and their lackeys.  He asked the form an independent committee for the third party audit of the budgetary funds of last two decades. He said if the third party audit of the budgetary funds was carried out a lot of hidden corrupt mafias would be unveiled.Mir said the government should reconsider budgetary provisions to allocate funds for the revival of KCR in the larger interest of Karachi and its people. He said it was also necessary to make a strong mechanism so that all the budgetary allocations were spent transparently. Abdul Raheem Moosvi of HANDS said powerful private transport mafia of Karachi has agents everywhere and they would surely sabotage all efforts of modernising of public transport system in Karachi. He said there was also a mafia, which has occupied and sold KCR lands and revival of the KCR would expose this powerful mafia, which is not desirable for the ruling quarters. Nasir Mansoor deputy general secretary National Trade Union Federation said, “Nobody cares about the public transport because it is a cheap means of transport for labours and low income masses”. He regretted the attitude of Sindh government towards solving problems of labours was negative. He said this government has even not made the minimum wages in Sindh at par with Punjab or federal government. He said even the coalition of the PPPP and MQM has failed to facilitate poor and low-income masses of Karachi.

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