No cultivation on railway land, WR tells staff
The Western Railway (WR) on Sunday said that it has stopped issuing licences to its staff members to cultivate on farms along the railway tracks in the city. The WR has also served notices to its employees to vacate the railway land. The Central Railway (CR) said it has initiated a drive to check the hygiene standards of the patches of railway land being used for farming and will cancel licences of employees if there are any irregularities or they are found using sewage water.
The development comes a week after the Bombay high court (HC) directed the railways to not use sewage water to grow vegetables on land along the tracks. The WR and the CR administrations permit junior-level staff to undertake cultivation on railway land.
A senior WR official said, “We’ve stopped issuing new licenses to employees, while the old licences have already expired. We issued notices to employees to vacate the land. There will be no licences issued henceforth.”
However, authorities fear that if the railway land is not used for cultivation, it may be encroached upon.
“The incidents of encroachment of railway land are quite high. This is one of the primary reasons why patches of land are given to employees for cultivation. Once railway land is encroached upon, it gets difficult to vacate it,” said a senior WR official.
Meanwhile, the CR said they would cancel the licences of employees who cultivate on railway land if they find the water being used for farming is sewage water. The CR permits its employees to cultivate on nearly 101 hectares of railway land, and earns annual revenue of ₹5.5 lakh from the produce.
Anil Kumar Jain, senior public relations officer, CR, said, “We have started an inspection drive, during which, we will be testing the vegetable samples and checking the land. If we find any irregularities in maintaining hygiene standards or discover that employees are using dirty water for irrigation, we have proposed cancelling the agreements of such employees.”
A CR official said. “The land is given to employees for a period of five years. As per the agreement, employees using the land for cultivation would have to arrange for water themselves.”