Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Welcome response from NFR

One of the main reasons why Dimapur Railway Station, among the oldest railway stations in the north east, continues to be in a state of stagnation, is because of unauthorised occupation of lands belonging to the railways and a step-motherly attitude shown by the Northeasten Frontier Railways(NFR). Shrinking land at Dimapur railway station is the chief reason for the stagnated expansion and development. Nagaland Post has been highlighting the problems through a series of reports during the past decades. This is the reason why a double track could not be constructed through Dimapur and as a consequence, it continues to be a bottleneck against expansion and development. A double-track would have enabled trains to run in both directions and shortening mandatory stops for slower trains. Since the track from Dhansiri-Bokajan via Dimapur is still a single lane track, some trains have to schedule longer at certain stations to allow express trains to pass. Consequently, due to this problem many trains do not stop long enough at Dimapur. Even the Jan Shatabdi express has a stoppage of hardly ten minutes at Dimapur. Other trains also stop for hardly the same period. It may be recalled that the Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO), NFR Lumding Division, Sabyasachi De, told Nagaland Post recently that around 30.283 hectares out of 53.806 hectares of railway lands have been under unauthorised occupation in Dimapur. The CPRO claimed that the NFR has not been getting positive response from the government of Nagaland and the Dimapur district authorities to evict illegal encroachers. The other problem is that court cases have been dragging on for decades without any end in sight. Nagaland Post had also highlighted the consequences due to the twin problems- stagnation of development and also the step-motherly attitude shown to Dimapur by the NFR. Dimapur railway station has been earning the second highest revenue under NFR but owing to the land issues which have halted expansion and also giving NFR an alibi to look at other options, the train travellers of the state are made to bear the brunt. The most reassuring statement in recent times came when current General Manager(NFR) Anshul Gupta told media on August 26 that NFR will implement the Supreme Court order on December 16,2021 that the Indian Railways is “equally responsible” for ensuring that there is no encroachment on its properties and it must initiate action against unauthorised occupants immediately after the issue is brought to its notice. Gupta said Dimapur railway station is no exception to the Supreme Court order when asked about unauthorised occupants, most of who have been issued with land pattas(permits) by the Dimapur district authorities in the past. Asked to comment even on some religious structures at the railway station, Gupta said the same Supreme Court order will apply after due process is followed. The ball is in the state government’s court and it now has to show political will to free the encroached lands. This will serve to facilitate expansion and development of the railway station for the benefit of the state in terms of trade, travel and tourism. It is also hoped that the state government will also intervene in issues where NFR has ‘hijacked’ trains such as Jan Shatabdi and even Nagaland Express from Dimapur to Assam and also press for providing demand for more ticket quotas for Dimapur.