Encroachment of 30.283 ha out of 53.806 ha railway land blocks development
Rampant encroachments of lands in Nagaland, especially of public areas has become the main hurdle against development and this is amply evident with regard to railway lands in Dimapur.
Despite being the second highest revenue earner for the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), Dimapur railway station is losing opportunities to be developed to its expected level as no expansion of facilities can be undertaken.
The fate of Dimapur railway station has been sealed and will eventually be reduced to an ordinary station under NFR as stations at Diphu, Lumding and Bokajan undergo vast improvement. The threat against improvement of Dimapur railway station was revealed by NFR chief public relations officer (CPRO) Sabyasachi De in an exclusive interview with Nagaland Post.
De revealed that out of the railways’ 53.806 hectares (Ha) of land in Nagaland, nearly 30.283 Ha have been illegally occupied.
The CPRO disclosed that though NFR had approached the State government several times for assistance, no “appreciable” assistance had been received either in demarcation of land or in removal of encroachments. He however still expressed hope that this issue would be suitably addressed in the coming days.
He admitted that the NFR could not take any action for removing the squatters but can only file FIRs and bring it to the notice of the authorities in Nagaland.
The CPRO also disclosed that the last eviction orders to the squatters were served on July 24, 2017, while 20 cases were currently pending at courts. He also said that railway land had been systemically encroached since May 2008.
The CPRO also mentioned that there were several sanctioned works ready for execution like upgrading Dimapur railway station into a world class station, upgrading goods area with yard remodelling for better service to passengers, doubling of Lumding-Furkating section, etc. He said all the above mentioned developmental works sanctioned for Dimapur railway station could not be started on account of unavailability of land, unless this was resolved.
It may be noted that many encroachers had even started construction of multi-story buildings within railway staff quarter area near the railway station here. In response to this, the CPRO said that NFR authority had approached DC Dimapur seeking assistance in stopping such illegal constructions and even lodged FIRs.
Surprisingly, it was also pointed out that a village council had even summoned NFR officials alleging that village land had been encroached by the railways. The summon notice was published in Nagaland Post on March 16, 2022.
The CPRO responded that NFR had not received any such summon letter.
Meanwhile, when this reporter inspected the encroached lands, a railway official here provided a list containing 631 names of land encroachers.
It was also learnt that almost all buildings and schools around the railway station were tagged as encroached land. The official also claimed that 45 to 70 feet land on either side of railway tracks, which are under illegal occupation, belong to NFR.
The official acknowledged that recently an eviction notice was received by railway staff ordering them to move out.
The lack of adequate response from the state government and notably the district administration in Dimapur is only providing the alibi for the NFR to ignore development of Dimapur railway station. One of the reasons for the state government’s unresponsive attitude was probably the heightened focus on construction of the railway like from Dhansiri-Zubza-Kohima project.
However, this focus need not be at the expense of improving Dimapur railway station, which serves not only Nagaland but also Karbi Anglong.