New Delhi: Under attack for its demolition drive during winter, Railways today defended removal of 1,200 slum dwellings in West Delhi, saying the action was taken after giving "several notices to the encroachers".
However, the demolition in Shakurbasti sparked a row after the death of a child in a slum. The slum dwellers including women and children were seen out in the open trying to collect their belongings.
While some erected makeshift tents to protect themselves from the cold, others made temporary arrangements for cooking. Railways removed yesterday about 1200 slum dwellings and about 15 shops at Shakurbasti station after giving third notice to vacate before December 12, 2015.
"We have followed all procedures before removing those unauthorised constructions at railway land. Three notices were served to them and finally with police help we removed those encroachments near Shakurbasti station," Delhi Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) Arun Arora said here.
Asked whether the child death incident has caused a setback to the railways demolition drive, Arora said, "No, the drive will continue as we want clear the encroachment near the track because it has become a serious problem for train operations."
He said there is no link between the demolition drive and the death of the child. "The child died before the drive started at 12 PM yesterday. The drive went on smoothly with the help of security personnel," Arora said, adding "the encroachment could not be removed earlier because of the non-availability of policemen."
The demolition was carried out in the presence of Delhi police, RPF and CRPF personnel. Asked whether the demolition drive has got the nod from Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, the DRM said,
"It is not required as the concerned authority is competent enough to carry out the task to keep the track areas free from encroachment."
Railways will apprise Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal about the development at Shakurbasti which has resulted in a confrontation between the Delhi government and the Centre.
"We will be meeting the Delhi Chief Miniter Arvind Kejriwal to apprise him of the actual facts. We will tell him that we have carried out the drive after giving them enough time to vacate," Arora said.
Currently there are about 47,000 slums on railway land.
"It is causing serious problem for train operations. National Green Tribunal has ordered us to keep the track clean of solid waste. So in order to keep it clean we have to remove the source of the solid waste.
"We have also given Rs 11 cr to Delhi Slum Urban Improvement Board under Delhi government for relocation and rehabiliation of slum dwellers removed from railway land," he said.