Amid the row over the demolition of a slum cluster here, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today told Lok Sabha that encroachments were a “safety hazard” which have been impeding development and that he will discuss with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal ways to clear such public land.
He also insisted that the death of a child at the demolition site had nothing to do with the razing of the slum units as it had occurred two hours before railways started clearing the encroachments at Shakur Basti with the help of police.
“As per report from Northern Railway, the child alleged to have died during the encroachment removal drive, had expired much before the encroachment removal had commenced, as confirmed from Delhi Police records,” Prabhu said in his response after AAP member Bhagwant Mann raised the issue.
Earlier, Mann attacked the Railways for the incident and said that even the Supreme Court has ruled that no such anti-encroachment drive could be carried out without providing for alternate arrangement.
He said Delhi Chief Minister has written three letters on the issue and still the drive was undertaken. AAP government in Delhi has created a storm over the issue alleging the child had died during the demolition drive undertaken by railways.
Prabhu said, “I will invite the Chief Minister of Delhi for discussion on how public land could be cleared for utilization for important public purposes and resource-less persons displaced from public land could be alternatively accommodated with a humanitarian approach.”
Describing the encroachment on rail land as “safety hazards”, the minister said “These encroachments have become source of impediment in development of new passenger terminal and other infrastructural facilities at Shakurbasti.”
He said even the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had recently “fined Northern Railway for not maintaining cleanliness on and around the track. Such encroachments are main source of garbage and open defecation etc. Encroachments are the safety hazards for train operation as well as for encroachers.”
Giving details of the drive, Prabhu said, “The soft encroachments adjoining the cement siding Shakur Basti Railway station area were removed on December 2015 in presence of Delhi Police personnel by Delhi division of Northern Railway.”
The encroachment at Shakur Basti was temporary in nature and several notices were served to encroachers for vacation of land, the minister said.