Under attack from the National Green Tribunal for failure to keep the tracks clean, the Railways has sought to shift the blame on Delhi government for not relocating slum clusters from its land by allotting them flats despite directions of the green panel.
Alleging non-cooperation by the Delhi government and Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), the PSU behemoth has said the “only permanent” solution for maintaining sustained cleanliness on tracks is their rehabilitation.
Railways moved an application before a bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar alleging that despite the fact that five out of six slum clusters have already been surveyed, DUSIB has not shifted them till date.
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In its plea, the Railways said “it is submitted that DUSIB is constantly trying to defeat the laudable object and also orders of the tribunal by insisting upon the new policy which is not in existence and is only pending consideration.”
The NGT had two days ago directed Railways to strictly impose a fine of Rs 5,000 on those defecating or throwing waste on tracks and act against them effectively.
It had also castigated the Railways and other authorities for “definite negligence” and “intentional lack of will” to implement its order issued last year when it had imposed a cost of Rs 5 lakh on the Railways for its failure to keep tracks and platforms in New Delhi clean.
The railways, in its plea, said “as large amount of municipal solid waste is being generated continuously by slum clusters, little success has been achieved in maintaining sustained cleanliness near tracks on the stretches where large Jhuggi Jhopri (JJ) clusters are existing. The only permanent solution for maintaining sustained cleanliness on tracks is to get JJ clusters removed.
It blamed DUSIB for not shifting the identified JJ clusters “despite specific orders.” These clusters along a 7 km stretch in Dayabasti/Azadpur area of North Delhi which were “identified to be taken up first for removal”.
It contended that in compliance to the directions of NGT, the Railways had approached Delhi Police and Delhi government for appointment of a joint team for collection of fines. The Delhi Police has deputed a team for the purpose but no representative of the Delhi government was available.
“In fact, it was only on July 1 that the Delhi government has appointed a nodal officer for the purpose. The railways would like to submit that such delays on part of other stakeholders is leading to not only loss of initiatives undertaken by the department but also weakens the thrust of all other actions taken by it,” it said.
Advocate Om Prakash, representing Railways, said the department had already paid Rs 11.25 crore to DUSIB in 2003-2004 for rehabilitation of 4,410 jhuggies from railway land.
“However, only 297 jhuggies have been removed till date. The NGT had directed DUSIB on March 18, 2015 that the balance amount of money should be utilised for rehabilitation of jhuggies from these identified six clusters and they should be removed within six months,” he said.
Railways also contended that its stand with respect to Delhi Slum and JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy 2015 of not being able to contribute “either by way of land or by money” is consistent with the stand of Railways on the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.
“It is submitted that under the basis of any slum development policy, it is the city which draws benefit from this situation and therefore under such policies, implementation has been made the responsibility of the state government,” it said.
The PSU behemoth has further alleged that there is defecation in open by the slum dwellers in and around the tracks for which DUSIB was directed to provide mobile toilets near the custers.
“Railway has already given NOC for 21 locations which was asked for by the DUSIB. However, there is little progress on the elimination or reduction in open defecation in these areas,” it claimed.
The Railways also sought waiver on NGT’s direction to pay a fine of Rs five lakh for its failure to keep tracks and platforms in New Delhi station clean.
Regarding the green panel’s order of strict implementation of Rs 5,000 fine on those defecating on the tracks or throwing waste there, it said it “continues to suffer … despite having made efforts to contain the problem through imposition of the environment fine as directed by the tribunal. The squatters have not paid the fine as yet.”