ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Railways intends to establish a railway link between Quetta and Gwadar at a cost of Rs 40 billion.

This was stated at a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Communication and Railways, which met here on Monday under the chairmanship of Senator Kamil Ali Agha.

The meeting was informed that the railway track between Quetta and Zahedan would also be improved.

The committee, during a review of the progress made on its earlier recommendations, was informed that currently there are 186 Katchi Abadis on railway network all over the country on 1,270 acres of land.

Expressing its concern over the provision of incomplete data on the Katchi Abadis in Balochistan, the committee directed the railway authorities to provide a comprehensive report, indicating the location of the Katchi Abadis in all the provinces.

The committee also directed the ministry to point out difficulties, if any, in removing and getting back the encroached railway lands from the illegal occupants throughout the country.

The chairman of the committee also directed the railway authorities to sort out ways and means to handle the Katchi Abadi issue in Lahore as it needed immediate redressal and assured full cooperation to the ministry.

The committee was also informed that the railway land was completely guarded by the vigilance committee and that the divisional engineers were entrusted the task of protecting the land and monitoring of the land irregularities. The members were of the view that there should be a comprehensive and transparent system to check the irregularities.

Minister for Railways Shamim Haider assured the committee that all-out efforts would be made to transform the Railways into a profit-oriented organisation. The committee was also informed that a feasibility report would be prepared to launch a broad gauged railway service between Bostan-Zhob-Dera Ismail Khan/Bhakhar to facilitate the passengers and the businessmen, as it will reduce distance of 250 km.

Regarding the auction of railway land, the members suggested that a systemic process of auction should be enforced through categorisation of railway land on commercial, domestic and agriculture basis.