Shops encroach upon Station Road outside Tatanagar. Picture by Animesh Sengupta
Unreserved ticket counters on platform No. 1 of Tatanagar were to be relocated along Station Road for passenger convenience. Encroachment prompted a revision of the project
Chakradharpur railway division had drawn up elaborate plans to beautify the area outside the junction, complete with landscaping and fountains. Squatters came in the way
The second entry to the station from Burmamines-end is hanging in balance because of illegal settlers
In a nutshell, serial encroachments have derailed the panoply of expansion and infrastructure upgrade plans for Tatanagar, an A-category station.
A short survey on Friday showed that both flanks of the Station Road were illegally occupied. The 100-odd encroachers run makeshift shops along a half-kilometre stretch, selling garments and vegetables among other things. A bunch of eateries do brisk business too.
Tatanagar station manager Awtar Singh conceded the problem, but expressed helplessness. “Encroachment is a menace and is taking heavy toll on several railway projects. We take the help of local administration to drive away these hawkers, but they keep coming back,” he said.
Singh, however, added that the office of assistant engineer was “taking a fresh look” into the problem. “An eviction order will be issued soon. And, this time, the railways will strictly ensure that the squatters do not return.”
Incidentally, the last anti-encroachment drive took place here in July, when rows of makeshift shops and shanties were pulled down. But, the hawkers and settlers were back within a week.
The Chotanagpur Passenger Association and Singhbhum Chamber of Commerce and Industry brought the matter to the notice of railway authorities. “Passengers face trouble negotiating the Station Road because encroachment leads to frequent traffic bottlenecks. The sooner squatters are removed, the better it is for the railways,” S.P. Trivedi, a senior functionary, said.
The administration is expected to launch another eviction drive on Station Road after Durga Puja, but inconvenienced residents find it hard to believe that encroachment will be a thing of the past.
Concerns are not unwarranted, because squatters seem more determined than the administration.
“I have been selling vegetables on encroached land for more than seven years. We cannot be told to pack up just like that,” said vendor R.K. Sahu, indicating how tough a challenge lay ahead.