23 acres of land belonging to the railways worth Rs 180 crores has been encroached upon in Zirakpur. Even showrooms and houses have come up on it. While the land mafia has a field day, the railways and the Mohali administration are busy shifting the blame.
Dhakoli village in Zirakpur right on the border with Chandigarh. 23 acres of land here belongs to the Railways. The cost of the land at present market rates is a whopping 180 crore rupees.
But the land is not with the railways it’s been encroached and that’s not all, the land mafia has even sold it. The railways point a finger at local politicians and Mohali administration, while the officials say the railways never pursued the case and let things be.
Railway lines passed through Dhakoli around 1950 when the railway station was located at Chandimandir. After the Chandigarh station came up, these rail lines were removed but the land still belongs to the Railways. With the sudden increase in property rates over the past few years, the railways claim that the land mafia became active.
A Punjab and Haryana High Court ruling prohibits construction 50 feet from the drainage system, but even this provision has been violated.
Area resident Kitri Kumar Sonak, who is a lawyer by profession, blames the railways as much as the Mohali administration. Neither, he says, has taken any action against the encroachers.
Railways Divisional Regional Manager P.K. Sanghi refused to come on camera, but said the High Court had given directions in their favour and the railway authorities were in the process of issuing notices to the encroachers to vacate the land. He also cited a provision in law that a state government can exchange land with the railways and utilise it. The Punjab government did not opt for it, but Haryana did. And if Punjab had done so, the encroachment could have been avoided, Sanghi says.
Interestingly, for some houses, the land mafia has already got the land registered. The railway authorities say the Mohali police denied to register an FIR against the encroachers and instead wanted the General Railway Police to handle the issue. DRM Sanghi claims this is not possible as the area falls under the jurisdiction of Mohali police. He points out that they even conducted a survey and got a list of 150 encroachers. The railways have decided to issue them notices and then publish a public notice.
The Mohali Deputy Commissioner says they have already assisted the railways in removing some encroachments and will do so if asked. He also said that the land belongs to the Railways and so only then can pursue it.
Varun Roojam, Deputy Commissioner, SAS Nagar said this is already in knowledge of the District Administration.
The Mohali Municipal Corporation president, N.K. Sharma, however, hit out at the railways. He claimed that the civic body had told the railways about the land mafia eyeing railway land but the rail officials never took interest.
MC President, N.K. Sharma said that the railways authorities have never pursued this case with local MC so it was negligence of Railways Authorities.
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