GUWAHATI, June 23 - Encroachment on railway land is emerging to be a major problem being faced by the Maligaon-headquartered Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR).
With about 164.50 hectares of railway land under encroachment and about 20,837 recorded cases of encroachment on railway land, especially in stations and railway residential areas, the problem is fast emerging to be a major impediment for the smooth working of the railways in Assam, said an NFR statement.
�Encroachment is proving to be a serious obstruction to the execution of developmental projects and expansion works of the NFR all over Assam. Major projects like development of Agiathori as a world-class station and other amenities in Amingaon area, work on the new pit-line and sick line at New Guwahati, expansion and upgrade of the circulating areas of railway stations at Silchar, Hojai, Diphu, Tangla and Chaparmukh are all getting hampered due to encroachment on railway land,� it said.
The NFR added, �In Guwahati area, the development of an alternative entry road to the Kamakhya Railway Station to ease out congestion is also not taking off due to illegal occupation of railway land by encroachers. Development of rail connectivity to the Pandu port of the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) from the Kamakhya Station, which is a long-standing demand for the economic growth of the region, is also plagued by encroachment issues.�
It said that at many of these encroached areas, unauthorised markets are being run in the vicinity of railway tracks.
�This not only endangers the safety of the people who throng these markets, but also results in the accumulation of garbage on tracks, causing clogging of drains. It may be mentioned that dumping of garbage by encroachers along the tracks right from the Kamakhya Station to Guwahati and further to New Guwahati area has been a major reason for clogging of drains, leading to inundation of tracks and surrounding areas during heavy showers, causing suspension of railway traffic.
�The areas under encroachment often become havens for all kinds of anti-social elements like drug peddlers and bootleggers, which is a serious menace for all peace-loving residents of society. This problem is particularly acute in the Guwahati Station area where frequent theft of railway property has been reported, mostly carried out by residents of shanties which occupy both sides of the track in the Guwahati-Kamakhya area. Incidents of stone pelting and theft of signalling cables and components from stabled coaches are frequent in the Guwahati area. Even cleanliness and hygiene of the Guwahati Station has been adversely affected by such rampant encroachment,� said the NFR.
The statement said the NFR has taken steps to tackle this menace under the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act 1971, by carrying out frequent eviction drives with the involvement of local law-enforcing agencies.
�There have been several meetings with senior officials of the State government and joint inspections were also carried out. The Commissioner and Secretary of Home & Political Department of the Government of Assam had written to all deputy commissioners and commissioners of police to provide adequate security to the railway administration for carrying out eviction. However, stronger action at the ground level is called for because the future of many developmental projects and safety and security of the common railway passengers of the region rest on how successfully the menace of encroachment is tackled,� said the NFR statement.