Delhi demolition row: Rail minister says encroachments ‘safety hazard’ | india | Hindustan Times
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Delhi demolition row: Rail minister says encroachments ‘safety hazard’

Amid a row over the demolition of a slum cluster in Delhi’s Shakur Basti, railway minister Suresh Prabhu said on Monday the encroachments were a “safety hazard” impeding development. Prabhu told the Lok Sabha he will discuss with Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal ways to clear such public land.

india Updated: Dec 14, 2015 16:42 IST
Railway minister Suresh Prabhu said the death of a child at the demolition site had nothing to do with the razing of the slum units as it had occurred two hours before the railways started clearing the encroachments.
Railway minister Suresh Prabhu said the death of a child at the demolition site had nothing to do with the razing of the slum units as it had occurred two hours before the railways started clearing the encroachments.(Mohd Zakir/HT Photo)

Amid a row over the demolition of a slum cluster in Delhi’s Shakur Basti, railway minister Suresh Prabhu said on Monday the encroachments were a “safety hazard” impeding development. Prabhu told the Lok Sabha he will discuss with Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal ways to clear such public land.

Prabhu also insisted that the death of a child at the demolition site had nothing to do with the razing of the slum units as it had occurred two hours before railways started clearing the encroachments at Shakur Basti with the help of police.

“As per report from Northern Railway, the child alleged to have died during the encroachment removal drive, had expired much before the encroachment removal had commenced, as confirmed from Delhi Police records,” Prabhu said in his response after AAP member Bhagwant Mann raised the issue.

Read: Baby dies in Delhi slum, blame on demolition drive

Earlier, Mann attacked the railways for the incident and said that even the Supreme Court has ruled that no such anti-encroachment drive could be carried out without providing an alternate arrangement.

He said the Delhi chief minister wrote three letters on the issue but the drive was still undertaken.

The AAP government in Delhi has alleged the child died during the demolition drive undertaken by railways.

“I will invite the chief minister of Delhi for discussion on how public land could be cleared for utilisation for important public purposes and resource-less persons displaced from public land could be alternatively accommodated with a humanitarian approach,” Prabhu said.

Describing the encroachment on rail land as “safety hazards”, the minister said: “These encroachments have become source of impediment in development of new passenger terminal and other infrastructural facilities at Shakur Basti.”

Read: Death of child in jhuggi demolition drive sparks new Kejri-Centre row

He said even the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had recently “fined Northern Railway for not maintaining cleanliness on and around the track. Such encroachments are main source of garbage and open defecation, etc. Encroachments are the safety hazards for train operation as well as for encroachers.”

Giving details of the drive, Prabhu said: “The soft encroachments adjoining the cement siding Shakur Basti Railway station area were removed on December 2015 in presence of Delhi Police personnel by Delhi division of Northern Railway.”

The encroachment at Shakur Basti was temporary in nature and several notices were served to encroachers for vacation of land, the minister said.

Read: We will protect you, fight your battles: Rahul to Delhi slum dwellers