Land dilemma delays Puri slum rehab project
Railways is reluctant to allow the state government construct houses for slum- dwellers on its land.
Dec 15, 2012
Source : The Times of India
BHUBANESWAR: Uncertainty looms large over implementation of Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) in Puri as the Railways is undecided whether or not to hand over its land to the state government to rehabilitate around 2,200 slum-dwellers, who have illegally constructed shanties on nearly 35 acre of land close to Puri railway station.

Though housing and urban development department (H&UD) and East Coast Railway (ECoR) have already held a series of meetings, the Railways is reluctant to allow the state government construct houses for slum- dwellers on its land, which was already earmarked by the Railways to undertake beautification projects. The Railways has been struggling to retrieve its land from the clutches of the encroachers.

"Many ambitious projects are in the pipeline on the encroached land. We have been urging Puri district administration to evacuate the illegal occupants from the land," said a senior railway officer. "We have not yet decided whether we would hand over the land for RAY project," he said. The RAY envisages costruction of concrete houses and other basic urban facilities for slum-dwellers so that the town becomes slum-free.

H&UD department expressed its inability to scout for alternative site for the project as it would amount to violation of State Slum Rehabilitation and Development Policy. "As per the policy, the slum-dwellers should be rehabilitated on or close to the place where they have been staying since long," said H&UD deputy secretary Anjana Panda. "We are in the process of holding talks with Railways to sort out the land matter," Panda said.

Sources said Railways is contemplating to go for a swap deal with the state government. It has sought nearly six acre from the state government at the Malatipatpur railway station on the outskirts of Puri to give away its land to H&UD department.

A joint team of H&UD department and ECoR visited Malatipatpur a few days ago to take stock of the land. "We have asked Puri tahasildar to find out whether any private land falls under the patch," another H&UD department officer said.

Meanwhile, Puri municipality has been asked to initiate measures for preparation of detailed project report for the RAY project. Government plans to commission the project before 2015 Nabakalebar festival of Lord Jagannath.


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