ROURKELA: Fresh attempt of South Eastern Railway (SER) to remove encroachment for its Rourkela-Jharsuguda third rail line has evoked strong resistance with the ruling BJD and the Opposition Congress and BJP demanding rehabilitation of slum dwellers before eviction.
A couple of days ago, the SER had served notices to the encroachers to vacate railway land by May 30 or face action. On Saturday, a group of affected persons accompanied by former Congress MLA Pravat Mohapatra met the Rourkela ADM and reiterated demand for rehabilitation before eviction. In fact, the SER is on a sticky wicket ahead of the 2019 General Elections as the BJD, Congress and BJP have planned protest over the issue.
Rourkela unit’s BYJD president Subash Swain said on Monday, a massive rally would be taken out and a demonstration will be staged in front of the office of Rourkela ADM. A memorandum would also be submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue. The BJD supports the national project, but it is also concerned about the slum dwellers, he added.
The SER has somehow lost the goodwill of city denizens and the administration after it stalled work on a stretch of 1,200 metres of the four-lane project of the State Government running through the Railway Colony. The BJD leader said they also demand the SER to give clearance for the four-lane project.
Rourkela District Congress Committee (RDCC) president Biren Senapati said about 4,000 poor people cannot be denied their basic rights to life. Both the Central and State governments have failed to implement the housing scheme for slum dwellers, he added and warned of protest.
Fearing loss of vote bank, the BJP too cannot afford to stay behind and also assessing the situation. In December, a local delegation of BJP, led by Union Ministers Jual Oram and Dharmendra Pradhan, had met Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal for rehabilitation of the slum dwellers.
Union Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha had laid foundation for the 101-km third line project worth `969 crore in March 2016 and declared to complete it in four years.While work on a new railway bridge on Brahmani river here is going on in full swing, the mega project is stuck on a stretch of 5.5 km from Malgodam to Panposh due to encroachment.