If institutions do not protect their lands, there will be encroachments: CJP Umar Ata Bandial
Says improvement in the railway system will be a great service to the common man
ISLAMABAD ( Web News )
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Umar Ata Bandial on Monday ordered the railways secretary to submit a comprehensive plan in two weeks related to making the Pakistan Railways (PR) profitable.
A three-member bench headed by the CJP Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail presided over the hearing of a case pertaining to the lease of Pakistan Railways lands.
During the hearing, the railways secretary told the court that Mainline-I (ML-I) is a $9.8 billion project that has been approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC), adding that millions of rupees are required for the project.
Irked by the remark the Supreme Court expressed its displeasure with the secretary on the issue of taking a loan.
Justice Bandial stated that the court will not allow anyone to talk about projects worth billions of rupees. The CJP further remarked that borrowing has become a sensitive issue in the country.
The chief justice added that “everyone talks about borrowing billions of dollars to start projects,” further questioning the progress being made on the infrastructure worth billions of dollars already in the country.
“The court is no longer impressed by the talk of billions of rupees,” stated Justice Bandial.
CJP further remarked that he traveled to Sindh during holidays and said that even today railway tracks are surrounded by floodwater.
The CJP then quoted a supplement published by The Economist on the infrastructure of Pakistan and said that the country needs performance and efficiency, not luxurious comforts.
“Railways is the lifeline of Pakistan. Improvement in the railway system will be a great service to the common man,” he maintained, adding that encroachments around railway lines are increasing.
“If institutions do not protect their lands, there will be encroachments,” he stated.
In his remarks, Justice Ijazul Ahsan asked the railways secretary how much profit the ministry is earning annually.
The secretary told the court that the annual profit target of railways for five years was Rs58 billion, adding that railways earned Rs62 billion in the year 2022.
He informed the court that during the last year’s floods, Pakistan Railways suffered a loss of Rs628 billion and said that railways itself restored the tracks after the floods without taking “a single penny from the government”.
“Road construction in the country has gained more importance and railways have been pushed back,” said the secretary. Subsequently, the hearing of the case was adjourned till the week commencing from January 23.