ROURKELA: The washing line project of South Eastern Railway (SER) will finally see the light of the day. The Sundargarh district administration and SER authorities on Friday managed to clear all the encroachments at Nehrupali slum of Malgodowm area here to pave the way for the project.
The project envisages extension of more trains to Rourkela on the busy Howrah-Mumbai route. But, the project could not take off due to the contentious issue of encroachment.
Sources said the eviction drive continued amid deployment of heavy police and Railway Protection Force (RPF) till the entire area was cleared. In May, the eviction drive had to be stalled as affected people with support of local politicians took to streets.
Rourkela Tehsildar Pradip Sahu said the eviction drive jointly conducted by the administration and SER saw the entire project site fully made encroachment-free with removal of about 173 illegal structures.
Ahead of Friday’s eviction drive, the encroachers made a last ditch effort to stop it. Led by Congress leader Nihar Ray, they demanded rehabilitation from the administration. As a temporary arrangement, they have been shifted to nearby vacant area.
General secretary of Rail Users’ Association (RUA) AC Baral said the SER should not allow further delay in completion of the washing line project as it would lead to addition of two more lines for washing, cleaning and maintenance of train coaches. Quoting SER sources, he claimed that on completion of the project, the Ranchi-New Delhi Garib Rath and Puri-Barbil-Chakradharpur passenger train would immediately be extended to Rourkela.
Baral said for running new trains, more washing lines are required at Rourkela. He said about 200 acres of SER land are under encroachment between Basanti Colony and Railway Colony which should be used for setting up more washing lines and coach maintenance workshop.