Ministry of Railways as also other land owning Ministries of the Union Government like Defence, Urban Development, Shipping, Transport & Highways, Home Affairs etc. have been blaming Ministry of Urban Development, which administers policy for land management in the Government, for not amending the PPE Act to make States responsible for eviction, as land is a State subject in the Constitution of India. Land owning Ministries have been pursuing with Urban Development Ministry for several years. Successive Governments have taken no fruitful action. Result has been eviction orders are stuck with no progress. Without involvement of States, eviction of encroachments, unauthorized occupants, destruction/removal of unauthorized construction, removal of existing, old and fresh encroachments cannot be ensured.

There is non-seriousness in the Government at all level as there is big money and massive corruption in land management. Presently, railway land under encroachment is 861.70 hectares (0.18 per cent of total land). Out of this, 152.4 hectares land is encroached in six big cities, Delhi, Hyderabad-Secundrabad, Chennai, Mumbai, Bangaluru and Kolkata, where 363 court cases for settlement/eviction of 81,414 encroachments are pending. Added to this, Railways have , so far, not categorized its land under land grabbing, land under court cases, land under unauthorized occupation of slum dwellers, land under armed forces occupation for its proper use and so on despite Railway Land Development Authority having been set up in 2005. Encroachment of Railways land has been continuing since 1950.

Raising its concern, the Audit (CAG) has stated that area under 7775 encroachments was not available with the Zonal Railways. It said non-availability of records of encroachments is a matter of concern that railway administration does not possess the required data and valuable evidence to defend its claim before the adjudicating authorities/courts. According to the Audit, Railways require 3455 kilometre boundary wall costing about Rs.2796 crore to protect railway land by constructing boundary wall at vulnerable locations, which is not workable in the current resource crunch that the Railways are facing. In the circumstances, Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has suggested to hire independent agency or set up one such agency on management of railway land.

Audit has also observed tardy implementation of authentication and digitization of land records. So far, out of 53898 land plans that are available, 81.41 per cent have been digitized. However, no land plan has been digitized in Kolkata Metro Railway. Shortfall of digitization of 19.59 per cent land plans indicates Railways’ failure to prioritise the issue even after a clear deadline given by the Railway Board. Out of 42182 land plans, 41467 land plans have been authenticated and uploaded. About 4462 land plans are yet to be authenticated, for which Railways are making efforts.

With the setting up of Railway Land Development Authority in 2005, Railways administration was buoyed that unutilized surplus land will be exploited for commercial use in Public-Private Partnership mode on 50-50 profit sharing basis, which is stuck as the States are not belling the cat. States want money so earned from commercial exploitation in particular State be funneled in the development of railways in that State, whereas Union Government is insisting that such money has to come to the kitty of the Centre for use across the country. It is learnt officially that some understanding was agreed upon with States in this regard, but practically speaking it has been stuck in the implementation stage. As a result, there has been little or nil progress in commercial exploitation of unused surplus railway land as it is perceived some people are out to make self-profiteering in such ventures. In the process, much thought out proposition that additional revenues so mopped up through commercial exploitation of unutilized surplus land, would take care of all round expansion and modernization of railways, has come a cropper!