More than six years ago, the Railways had planned a new terminal with three platforms in New Delhi area. The project is yet to take off. Land allotted for the project became home to Shakurbasti.
The demolition of Shakurbasti led to a PIL in the Delhi High Court by Congress leader Ajay Maken, seeking orders for a rehabilitation plan for the displaced residents. The court rapped the Railways for clearing Shakurbasti jhuggi cluster “without alternate arrangements” for rehabilitation of its residents “in the biting cold”. The court also pulled up the Railways after its counsel failed to answer queries on whether a proper survey of the area had been done as per law.
Subsequently, the Railways filed an affidavit, which states an area of six hectares under soft encroachment near cement siding Shakurbasti is required for passenger amenities. The project, pegged at Rs 110 crore, has been stalled since 2008-09. The affidavit states, “The facilities are directed towards decongestion of existing stations, particularly New Delhi, Old Delhi stations. Due to heavy rush… passengers are put to discomfort and incidents involving loss and danger to life and limb have been occurring.”
The Railways has stated the process to reclaim encroached land has been on for years. In 2006, around 400 unauthorised jhuggis were removed after a High Court order to the effect. More removals happened in 2008 and 2011. Later, new encroachers constructed jhuggis and authorities requested the police for help to clear it, according to the affidavit. “However, till 08.02.13, no such help was provided, which resulted in further encroachments. Finally on 09.02.13 action was taken… After that encroachers started again…”
After the demolition in 2013, Railways made multiple requisitions to the police for security, according to the affidavit. “All the dates of demolition were notified to the Delhi Police and to all encroachers. However, no police aid was provided…” Sources said the Railways finally carried out the drive in Shakurbasti after getting police security.