Pakistan Railways has been conducting anti-encroachment operations since the past three to four years. This endeavor has allowed it to retrieve over 3000 acres of land since the start of the operation. According to an official in the Ministry of Railways, the operation since the past 11 months has allowed the retrieval of 293.56 acres of state-owned land across the country.
The current progress of land retrieval
“The encroachment operation was launched with the assistance of railway police and district administration”, shared the Railway officials. Giving a division-wise breakup, he said, “railways had retrieved 143.45 acres from Punjab, 80.54 acres form Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 59.8 acres from Sindh and 9.77 acres from Balochistan”.
The official confirmed that Pakistan Railways owns 167,690 acres of land across the country. Out of this, 90,326-acre is in Punjab, 39,428-acre in Sindh, 28,228-acre in Balochistan and 9,708-acre in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
When asked about the current operations, he revealed that the Frontier Corps Balochistan stopped the labor working on the Khost-Sibi section; they placed this restriction in January 2018 due to non-provision of security.
According to him, “the contractor, National Logistics Cell (NLC), is facing difficulties due to the absence of infrastructural facilities and security”. Hence, due to security reasons, they suspended the track rehabilitation work for some time. This can take up to six months – subject to the law and order situation in the province.
NLC was created in 1978 to deal with national crisis & it has always fulfilled its responsibilities in wars, floods, earthquakes, strikes and so on – and it rises to this challenge as well! Well Done NLC ! https://t.co/WYMAUmAdnf
— Moeed Pirzada (@MoeedNj) April 1, 2020
In this regard, Pakistan Railway and Railway’s Police held a meeting, in Quetta, with the provincial chief secretary. Here, the Chief Secretary assured Pakistan Railways of complete protection throughout Balochistan Levies.
Sources also revealed that a special project conducted a Geographic Information System (GIS) survey regarding the computerization of railway land records. This survey recorded all the encroachments and leases in the Pakistan Railways Land Management Information System (PRLMS) software. Moreover, the database is under verification for further compilation.
While talking about mishaps, he confirmed, “Pakistan Railways has finalized inquiries of 44 passenger train accidents; while 22 accidents of goods trains are under investigation of the respective divisions in accordance with rules of the department”.
NLC’s emergence in the Railway Scene
In 1978, the civil authority called on the army for help. At the time, massive congestion had hit Karachi Port, bringing the country’s Logistics operations to a halt. This congestion had resulted in a waiting time of over 50 days for ships to discharge their cargo; thereby, costing the government $12.50 million per anum in demurrage.
After successfully accomplishing the task, the military government used this experience to create the National Logistics Cell (NLC). Since then, NLC took under its wing, several operational duties including construction, sea/road/air transportation etc.
Post-partition, Pakistani governments failed to upgrade and maintain the 8200 km of railway network inherited by the country. This is because policymakers of the time gravitated towards road networks. Such negligence led to a subsequent decline in the freight carrying capacity of the railways.
Now, NLC is Pakistan’s premier logistics enterprise and has played a major role in the national development since its inception. Since the downfall of Pakistan railways, NLC has carried the baton to continue freight transport. For context, up till 1980, Pakistan Railways accounted for 65% of Pakistan’s freight traffic and now it teeters around 1%.
The operations genius has performed diverse roles and contributed significantly towards the growth of national economy. Perhaps, NLC is the government’s designated crisis management organization today – which stays true to its original cause for establishment.