Monday, February 6, 2023

NFR notices raise more questions than answers

Staff Reporter

While trying to fulfil the process of eventual eviction of persons described as “unauthorised occupants” over Railway land measuring around 30 Hectares in Dimapur, the Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR) pasted notices at a few areas in and around Dimapur railway station but which has raised more questions than answers.
The NFR notices were reported in a section of the media (including Nagaland Post) on Monday. The notices were not served personally to the “unauthorised occupants” but pasted on walls in and around Dimapur railway station.
NFR first pasted its show cause notice on November 14,2022 to the ‘unauthorised occupants’ directing them to respond to the Estate Office, NF Railway Lumding on or before November 29,2022. Then another notice was issued on the ‘unauthorised occupants’ to present themselves in person on December 6,2022 for the hearing.
After expiry of the deadline the Estate Officer, NF Railway then issued another notice on December 16,2022 under relevant sections of Public (Eviction of unauthorised Occupation) Act 1971 asking the ‘unauthorised occupants’ to vacate the land within 15 days from the date of publication of the notice (December 16,2022). That meant the lands were to be vacated on or before December 31,2022.
On Monday, several residents of one colony that has come up over the decades within NFR lands have claimed that they were given pattas by the district authorities and also permitted to construct houses.
A member of Westyard Colony told Nagaland Post that they were unaware of the NFR notices since none of them were handed the notices but pasted on walls in some parts of the colony.
One of them said they came to know of the notices only from Nagaland Post which published the report of the various notices and eviction order on Monday.
They also rejected NFR’s assertion that they were “unauthorised occupants”, asserting that they have been residing in the area since 1950s and also given permission by the state government to construct home in 1973.
The GB of Westyard claimed that most residents had settled in the area even prior to the formation of Nagaland.
A woman said her family have been residing in the colony since over 60 years and questioned the motive of NFR in issuing eviction notice without any prior information.
When asked whether they would be ready to vacate the land as per the eviction notice served by NFR, some replied that they were ready to vacate the land, provided they were provided compensation.
The residents also insisted that compensation should be provided to only those who had proper land pattas issued by the State government in 1973.
They further claimed that they had documents of the State government that had requested them to construct permanent structures in the area.
The GB asserted that the residents were legal settlers and that they were residing in the area legally with proper government documents. He also claimed that the colony had celebrated its first Durga Puja in 1985.
The NFR did not serve notice by hand to the intended persons but only pasted the notices on walls. These seem to indicate that the intention of NFR was only to show that it was doing its job and would serve as a ploy to sideline Dimapur on the excuse of inability to get land for laying double-track and construction of facilities.
Sources also allege that erstwhile staff of the NFR were hand-in-glove with the ‘occupation’ of railway land. Dimapur railway station also has the unique feature of having three mandirs near the railway station itself.
The NFR has finally woken up from its slumber mainly due to consistent publication in Nagaland Post over several years with regard to snail paced development and poor train connectivity despite rise in volume of passenger traffic.
Trains meant to originate at Dimapur such as Jan Shatabdi has been extended to Jorhat while the Nagaland Express has been shifted to Ledo. The only train emanating from Dimapur is the BG Express.

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