Land, CBOs and the Karachi Circular Railway

ABSTRACT The Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) was planned in 1962 as a goods service linking fi ve important work areas of the city. Subsequently, it was upgraded for commuter use as well. Pakistan Railways now wish to upgrade and expand the circular railway and double-track those parts of it that are single track. However, for this to be done about 20,000 households living in informal settlements along the railway tracks will have to be evicted and relocated. The residents of the informal settlements have organized themselves as part of the All Pakistan Alliance for Katchi Abadis (APAKA), and their local chapter is known as the Network of Railway Colonies. Two Karachi NGOs, the Orangi Pilot Project–Research and Training Institute (OPP–RTI) and the Urban Resource Centre (URC), have been instrumental in supporting the Network of Railway Colonies and other community organizations in surveying the “encroachments” (both formal and informal) along the railway tracks and in documenting the histories of the different settlements. This documentation has strengthened the negotiating power of the railway land informal settlements, whose communities have also made a number of proposals for changes and alternatives to the government’s scheme.

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