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Sunday, January 23, 2022

Western Railways demolition drive: 2,546 huts demolished between Udhna and Surat railway stations

The work was carried out in Milindnagar, Apna Nagar, Makdum Nagar, Narsinh Mandir and Panchsheel Nagar where 10 JCB machines and seven dumpers were deployed.

By: Express News Service | Surat |
Updated: January 5, 2022 2:00:17 am
Demolition drive on an illegal encroachment near Surat Railway station Tuesday. (Express Photo by Hanif Malek)

Western Railway officials demolished 2,546 huts between Udhna and Surat railway stations on Tuesday to facilitate the laying of a third railway line to help ease congestion at Surat Railway station, said a Railway official.

The work was carried out in Milindnagar, Apna Nagar, Makdum Nagar, Narsinh Mandir and Panchsheel Nagar where 10 JCB machines and seven dumpers were deployed.

Surat Railway station director Dinesh Verma said, “We acted as per the Supreme Court’s order. In the first phase, we have today cleared all the encroachments between Surat to Udhna Railway station and in the coming days we will also clear the encroachments between Uttran and Surat Railway station.”

“The railway authorities are going to lay another track between Surat to Udhna railway station to ease the railway traffic,” Verma added.

Personnel from the Surat city police, Railway Protection Force (RPF), and Government Railway Police were also present to prevent any untoward incident.

On August 24, 2021, Western Railway authorities along with the demolition staff and police attempted a demolition drive of illegal encroachments near railway tracks between Surat and Udhna.

After a stay on the demolition by the Gujarat High Court was lifted on August 20, 2021, Utran se Bhestan Railway Jhopadpatti Vikas Mandal, a collective body formed by hutment dwellers, filed a petition in the Supreme Court and requested an urgent hearing.

The Supreme court passed an order of status quo and demolition activities were stopped. However, on December 16, 2021, the Supreme Court quorum of judges, Justice A M Khanwilkar, Justice Dinesh Maheswhari, Justice C T Ravikumar, passed an order in favour of Western Railway.

A copy of the order , which is with The Indian Express, said, “ Notices be issued within one week from today and if the occupants fail to vacate the unauthorised structure, it will be open to the respondent,Western Railway, to initiate appropriate action to forcibly dispossess them and to demolish or remove the unauthorised structures.”

The order further added that the “Collector must ensure that necessary details about the names and number of persons occupying the structure, including their identity and profile should be duly recorded” to be used later for considering their eligibility for an alternative accommodation.

The order also mentioned that Western Railway, local government and the state government “shall be jointly and severally liable to pay a sum of Rs 2,000 per month per demolished structure for a period of six months from the date of demolition of their structure as ex-gratia amount…”

The order stated that the amount is to be paid by the Collector for of six months “only” and shall be later on shared equally by the entity (owner of the land), local government, and state government. The order also had provisions for a rehabilitation scheme, in which “the local government may provide them suitable residential accommodation in lieu of rehabilitation”.

Santosh Patil, member of Utran se Bhestan Railway Jhopadpatti Vikas Mandal, said, “We are will discuss the order with our legal teams. At present, those who lost their houses are staying in rented
accomodations .”

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