The Railways said on Monday it will not dismantle any encroachment without a proper decision taken jointly with the Urban Development Ministry and the Delhi government, after a political storm brewed over a Supreme Court order for removal of around 48,000 slum dwellings on rail land in the city.
In the August 31 order, the apex court had ordered removal of the slums within three months. It is estimated that around 2.4 lakh people live in slums in Naraina Vihar, Azadpur, Vihar, Shakur Basti, Mayapuri, Sriniwaspuri, Anand Parbat, Okhla and others.
The Northern Railways had submitted a report to the apex court saying that mushrooming of slums along railway tracks is acting as hindrance towards keeping them clean.
“The railways have been taking all measures for complying with Hon’ble Supreme Court’s order in M C Mehta v/s Union of India dated 31.8.2020. Railway officials are holding regular meeting with all stake holders i.e. Delhi Govt. (with DUSIB on 5.9.2020) and Ministry of Urban Development (on 10.9.2020) to find means and ways to comply with the Supreme Court Order.
“Further, the Railway will not dismantle any encroachment without proper decision alongwith MoUD and state government. The same stand has been taken by the Ministry of Railways in hearing of Ajay Maken’s petition in the Supreme Court listed today (Monday),” the northern railways said in a statement.
The Railways also said that it has started a large-scale drive and removed 5-6 per cent garbage lying along the tracks till date. “Garbage cleaning will be completed within three months as given in the order by the Supreme Court,” it said.
On Friday, Senior Congress leader and former minister Ajay Maken had moved the Supreme Court seeking rehabilitation of slum dwellers. The plea sought direction to the Ministry of Railways, Delhi Government and Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) to rehabilitate the slum dwellers prior to eviction and demolition of their dwellings.
It also sought direction to the Ministry of Railways, Delhi Government and DUSIB to follow the Delhi Slum and JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy, 2015, and the protocol for removal of jhuggis in the letter and spirit.
In a letter to the railways on Thursday, the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB), headed by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, said according to the 2015 policy, the rehabilitation work has to be undertaken by the agency which owns the encroached land.
However, DUSIB also said it can undertake rehabilitation work but the railways will have to pay for the cost of land and construction as well as relocation charges ranging from Rs 7.55 lakh to Rs 11.30 lakh per flat.