The Calcutta High Court, on June 13, 2018, directed the state government to depute a magistrate to oversee the drive to evict around 80 illegal shops, encroaching on railway land at New Jalpaiguri and Siliguri stations. Justice Rajasekhar Mantha also granted authority to the Railways to use its own force, for the eviction drive.
New Jalpaiguri is an important station, connecting the north-eastern states with the rest of the country and is being upgraded to a ‘Class A’ station but the encroachments have hindered the development of infrastructure there, additional solicitor general Kaushik Chanda told the court. The HC directed the state government to cooperate and provide assistance, to oversee the eviction of around 60 unauthorised vendors, including restaurants, outside the station building of the New Jalpaiguri station complex and 20 shops at Siliguri railway station.
“The whole country is suffering. Every state, every city is suffering due to illegal encroachments,” justice Mantha observed, while disposing of the petition filed by the Railways. Chanda and counsel Saptarshi Roy submitted that the West Bengal government had written that its concurrence was required, for removal of the encroachers and sought direction to the state for providing assistance in carrying out the eviction order. Justice Mantha said the Railways will not require concurrence of the state government, for evicting the illegal occupiers at the two stations, which are under the jurisdiction of North Frontier Railway (NFR).
The high court had, on a petition by the NFR, ordered the eviction of illegal shops at the two stations on July 5, 2016. However, unable to find assistance from the state to remove the encroachments, NFR moved the high court again in July 2017. Justice Joymalya Bagchi, who had passed the eviction order earlier, told the state and railway authorities to form a high-power committee, to oversee the modalities and execution of the eviction order.
Since there was not much headway in execution of the order, the NFR authorities moved the high court again, on June 13, 2018, seeking assistance of the state government. The encroachments, by illegal shops and settlements on railway land adjacent to the tracks, hamper development of services to passengers at stations, as well as punctuality of trains owing to speed restrictions, a senior railway official said.