Sunday, August 14, 2022

Nagaland: Railway Contractors’ Union Nagaland demands Special Investigation Team probe into railway land encroachment

Railway Contractors’ Union Nagaland (RCUN) has demanded that the State government should immediately set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to conduct an investigation into rampant encroachment on railway land and book those officials involved in the corruption as per the provisions of law.
In a press note, RCUN has blamed inappropriate handling of encroachment on railway lands in initial stages by authorities concerned for the current impasse.
The union pointed out that the issue of rampant and illegal encroachment on railway land was not a recent phenomenon as it had been pursuing the matter with the appropriate authorities since many years. It cited a letter to Dimapur deputy commissioner of May 22, 2020 wherein it had requested the district administration to take up the matter of unauthorised encroachment and construction on railway Land.
However, the union alleged that the district authorities never handled the matter in a judicious and fast-track manner, resulting in many illegal constructions, including numerous temples, over the years within the periphery of Dimapur railway station, obstructing its expansion and development.
RCUN questioned the State government why it was maintaining silence on the matter though the issue of illegal encroachment had been published and brought to the notice of competent authorities. It also wondered whether this could be construed as ism-based politics whereby all developmental projects were diverted to either Kohima or Chümoukedima.
Being a people’s government, the union reminded it to carry out its responsibilities without any tribal or regional bias. It also demanded that the government should immediately take up the matter and act sternly to free all railway land from encroachments. Otherwise, it could very well be presumed that the State government did not have any political will to let one of the oldest railway stations to develop as per the needs and aspirations of the people, the release added.
Further, RCUN also questioned Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) why it had not taken up the matter of encroachment at the early stage itself instead of waiting for so long. The very fact that NFR was not serious about the matter from the very beginning showed its lack of serious concern for the development of Dimapur railway station, the union pointed out.
According to the union, the railways had enough personnel of Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police (GRP) to deal with such situations though it had been sleeping over the matter for reasons known best to it.
The contractors’ body wondered whether the railways was hand in glove with the State government whereby such silly excuses were cited for not developing Dimapur railway station and divert railway projects to either Zubza or Chümoukedima.
“Such nefarious tactics of NFR are quite blatant in the manner in which two trains originating from Dimapur viz., Nagaland Express and Jan Shatabdi were hijacked to Ledo and Jorhat respectively right under the nose of the State government under one or the other pretext,” the release added.
Dimapur railway station was the major rail head of Nagaland and Manipur and the highest rail per-capita revenue earning station under NFR in the entire Northeast. And though it was currently the sole railway station in Nagaland and had rich potentials for growth and expansion, the union accused NFR of always meting it step-motherly treatment.
As the State government had plans for setting up railway stations at Chümoukedima and Zubza, RCUN feared that the plans for expansion and upgrade of Dimapur railway station would always remain a distant dream as such plans would also be hijacked in favour of the other newer and less significant stations.
Therefore, the excuse given by NFR of illegal encroachment being the sole reason for not developing the station was full of malice and highly questionable. The public could not be fooled by such excuses as they knew very well that trains being hijacked to other stations could not be attributed to land encroachments, the union stated.
RCUN also questioned the indifferent attitude of VVIPs towards the issue of upgrade of Dimapur railway station, asking whether this was because they were so habituated to travelling by air that they had lost the common touch.
The union said the railway was the cheapest and safest mode of travel for most people, especially for families, students, traders, commuters, etc. Hence, everyone must support the endeavour of its development instead of being passive, it added.
The union called upon every right-thinking citizen as well as civil society organisations, student bodies and other NGOs to rise up against such diversionary and dubious tactics of the State government and NFR so that Dimapur railway station did not get hijacked like the trains and Dimapur airport to other districts.


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