Calcutta High Court on Tuesday gave a month's time to the 'coal plot-holders' of Cossipore, Chitpur and Ultadanga to shift their yards to Dankuni, where Eastern Railway would have to provide them with infrastructural facilities.
'The plot-holders will make proper applications to the railway authority, seeking land at Dankuni within 15 days, and the railway would arrange to provide them with facilities similar to Cossipore yard within 30 days from today,' Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghosh said in his order.
The judgment stated that the licence fee of the plot-holders should not be increased and directed the railway to make arrangements for laying of tracks and providing water and other facilities both to the plot-holders and visitors.
The judgment followed a petition by Calcutta Coal Plot Holders Association, challenging the validity of the railway notification asking them to shift to Dankuni to make way for the third railway terminus to be set up at Chitpur.
Appearing on behalf of the 78 plot-holders, Siddhartha Shankar Ray and Ajit Panja told the court that the businesses of their clients would suffer if they were shifted to Dankuni. 'Our clients are licensed plot-holders and the railway has no authority to evict them from Chitpur and Cossipore without providing them with a suitable place for conducting business,' the lawyers asserted.
The railway lawyers informed the court that Rs 17 crore had been provided in the rail budget of the current financial year (2004-05) for the first phase of work for building the railway terminus at Chitpur.
The petitioners' lawyers also told the court that the railway authority was trying to send them to Dankuni without making proper arrangements there. 'Loading and unloading of coal is impossible without the laying of at least six tracks at the new location,' they said.
The railways lawyers, on the other hand, said: 'A total cost of Rs 90.54 crore has been estimated for the project and the target date of completion of work for the first phase is October 31. Due to the adamant attitude of the plot-holders, the railway is not in a position to proceed with the project.'
They claimed proper arrangements had been made at Dankuni for the plot-holders.