Despite facing encroachment problem, railways was found to be lacking in maintaining land records, a parliamentary committee has found.
The largest public behemoth has not taken adequate steps like construction of boundary wall on land for prevention of encroachment at many places.
The committee noted that despite the Railway Board’s instructions, land record registers were not maintained by zonal, divisional and field levels as per codal provisions.
Moreover, land boundary verification and encroachment inspection registers were not maintained by 97 out of 212 senior sectional engineers’ offices.
In its latest report, the Public Accounts Committee has taken note of inconsistencies in reporting facts and figures on land holding, vacant land encroachments, land plans, verification of records with state revenue authorities and construction of boundary walls at various levels of zones.
There were also cases of forged sales of railway land by private parties in some zones.
In one of such cases in Western Railway, the PSU failed to take possession of land measuring 159.91 hectares from the state government 32 years after closure of the narrow gauge line on Ujjain-Agar as the WR could not prove ownership.
However, the Ministry has maintained that “Railways inherited land records from erstwhile British India, various state railways and princely states where there have been lack of uniformity in record maintenance. These varying practices, at times, might give rise to dispute on title of land.”
On encroachment, the committee observed that 1,88,996 cases involving 1,594 hectares existed as on 2006—07. Such incidents in 46 locations were not shown in the records either.
There are 15 cases where railways has not taken any action against encroachers for as many as 55 years. The issue has also delayed many projects resulting in cost escalation and loss of earning.
Quadrupling of Borivali—Vasai line was delayed due to encroachment which caused Rs 66 crore loss of earning and cost escalation of Rs. 35.13 crore. Similarly, construction of third line between Attipattu and Korukkupet and yard remodelling work in Coimbatore junction were delayed.
Though construction of boundary wall is essential for preventing encroachment, the committee observed that it was not done at many places.
The Railways deals with its encroachment cases under the provisions of the Railway Act, 1989 and the Public Premises (eviction of the unauthorised occupants) Act 1971. However, 45,581 cases are pending due to non-production of required documents.