All railway zones have over 170 illegal religious structures: Ashwini Vaishnaw

Written by Sharangee Dutta | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Jul 30, 2021 08:47 PM IST

The Union minister of railways Ashwini Vaishnaw further stated that efforts have been taken to remove these structures by the railway administration along with RPF and the assistance of GRP.

As many as 179 illegal religious structures stand erected on platforms and yards across all zones of the Indian Railways, Parliament was apprised of by Union minister of railways Ashwini Vaishnaw on Friday. These structures are present in the form of temples, dargahs (shrines) and mosques, and have existed since long, he said in a written reply.

Union railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that the illegal structures are being monitored daily to ensure no further expansions occur. (HT File)
Union railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that the illegal structures are being monitored daily to ensure no further expansions occur. (HT File)

“Efforts to remove these illegal religious structures from all station platforms or yards have been taken by the railway administration along with the Railway Protection Force (RPF) with the assistance of local administration and Government Railway Police (GRP),” Vaishnaw said in his reply.

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He added that these structures have been recorded and monitoring is underway on a daily basis to make sure that “no further expansion or extension takes place.”

Speaking about the challenges the railway administration faces in order to remove such illegal religious structures, Vaishnaw said that they often experience public agitation. He added that owing to the matter being related to law and order, the encroachments are difficult to remove without the respective state government’s cooperation, which is found “lacking in most cases".

“The railways also makes efforts to amicably settle the issue by persuading the members of the religious structure committee to shift the location of their religious structures to other places outside of railway areas,” the minister said.

He added that with strict vigilance and monitoring, “further proliferation or mushrooming of these illegal structures has been prevented.”

The discussions occurred in Rajya Sabha earlier in the day before the House was adjourned till 11am on Monday amid continuous uproar by the Opposition MPs over Pegasus snooping project.

The Opposition MPs have been relentlessly protesting since the commencement of the monsoon session of Parliament, resulting in both Houses being adjourned multiple times.

On Friday, Union parliamentary affairs minister Prahlad Joshi urged the Opposition to “allow the House to function,” citing that the Pegasus project is a “totally non-serious issue.” “More than 315 members want the Question Hour. Despite that, behaving like this, it’s more unfortunate. IT Minister (Ashwini Vaishnaw) has given a detailed statement in both the Houses,” Joshi said.

He added that there are several “people-related issues” that require discourse and that the central government “doesn’t want to pass the bills without discussions.” “We’re ready for discussion but they’re not allowing it,” Joshi added.

Meanwhile, on Thursday Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said that they “only want discussion on the Pegasus issue.” “For that, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister’s (Amit Shah) presence is necessary. This (snooping) is treason. If they let us discuss the issue, the House will function properly,” he added.

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