2,000 hectares Railway land encroached
The maximum area under encroachment, 1,145 hectares, is in the Northern Railway zone, reports Hemendra Singh Bartwal.
The Indian Railways, which is the largest land-owning government agency in the country, has over 2,000 hectares of its land under encroachment by slum dwellers, small vendors and other elements mainly in metro cities and urban areas.
The maximum area under encroachment, 1,145 hectares, is in the Northern Railway zone. There are a total of over 1.59 lakh cases of encroachments of which 39,733 cases are pending in courts.
In view of the failure of Railways as well as other government departments to protect their vacant land and remove the encroachers, a move is now on to set up a task force in the Urban Development Ministry to formulate a unified policy to deal with the problem.
The Standing Committee on Railways, headed by CPI-M MP Basudeb Acharia, was informed by Railway officials that lack of cooperation from state governments was an important reason why they were unable to remove squatters from their lands though eviction proceedings under the Public Premises Eviction Act, 1971 that had been initiated in a large number of cases.
The committee in its report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday expressed concern over the large-scale encroachments and asked the Railways Ministry to fix the responsibility of protecting the land on senior officials at the zonal level and hold them accountable in case of failure to do so.