Railways Serve Eviction Notice to over 4,000 in Uttarakhand's Nainital Citing Encroachment

Reported by

Urvashi Mahtolia

Legal Data by

Anmol Gupta, Mukta Joshi

Edited by

Moushumi Sharma

Updated by

Published on

February 16, 2022

February 16, 2022

Updated on

February 16, 2022

Location of Conflict

Haldwani

Banbhoolpura area, including Dholak Basti, Nayi Basti and Gafur Basti

Nainital

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Railways

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

4365

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

12

ha

Starting Year

2007

State

Uttarakhand

Sector

Infrastructure

On July 27, 2021, the North Eastern Railways served more than 1,000 eviction notices to the residents of Banbhoolpura, ordering them to evict their houses within 15 days. Similar notices were served to more than 500 people in April and 1,581 people in January. The residents complained that the regular circulation of eviction notices was only to harass the people as the matter is sub judice in court. 

In an earlier order dated November 9, 2016, the Uttarakhand high court had directed the North Eastern Railway authorities to remove encroachments on railway land. Following that order, around 4,365 notices were issued in 2016**. **Dismissing a review application filed by the state, the court in January 2017 ordered the eviction of encroachers within four weeks. But the Supreme Court stayed the order for three months, noting that the high court had not heard the petitioners before passing the order of eviction.

Families facing the threat of eviction contend that the land belongs to the Haldwani Municipal Corporation (HMC) and not the Railways. Some have claimed long-standing possession, arguing that they have been residing in the area since independence and hence the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971, does not apply to them. Others have claimed that the land was allotted to them by the state, while some others contend that they purchased the land in a public auction. The counsel for people facing the eviction claim a land ownership dispute between the Railways and the state, in addition to the demarcation of the land not being complete.

Laxmi, one of the women living in the area facing the threat of eviction, told LCW: "Our houses have been marked. I know they have been asking us to relocate. When Indira aunty (referring to late Congress leader Indira Hridayesh of Haldwani constituency) was around, she told us not to worry. But I am not sure what awaits us now; nobody anyway listens to us.”

The residents have been demanding ownership rights, regularisation, construction of sewer lines, hospitals and resettlement of people in the Gafur Basti area. According to them, the HMC owns 75 per cent of the land and hence, the demarcation should be done jointly by the corporation and the Railways. They also argue that the Railways should only evict people residing in its part of the land.

Railway officials, meanwhile, say that the encroachment is hampering development and expansion works. According to them, several proposals for expanding railway tracks in the area were sent to the government in the past but that the issue of encroachment prevented their passage. A proposal for constructing pit lines was sent a few years ago but has taken a backseat due to the lack of space resulting from encroachment. Officials believe that removing the encroachment would facilitate the operation of longer route trains from the Haldwani railway station, which will benefit the Railways with increased income and enable more accessible travel for the general public.

In 2018, the High Court had issued directions to the HMC to remove all illegal encroachments in the city after a public interest litigation was filed by a journalist. The same year, the state passed the Uttarakhand Special Provisions for Urban Bodies and Authorities Act, which provided a three-year relief to unauthorised constructions (slums) from punitive actions in matters of notices issued by a local authority. Replacing a 2016 Act by the previous government, the 2018 Act is aimed at sustainable and planned development of slums in the state.

The conflict over the encroachment of Railway land can be traced to 2007, when the Railway authorities conducted eviction drives for land demarcation and removal of encroachment. However, it resulted in clashes and arson and was met with protests and stone-pelting. As the railways authorities continue to issue notices, the fate of thousands of people has been left in the lurch. Agitating people have questioned the government’s intentions, as they claim no action has been taken since 2016 to regularise the land or to resettle them.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for rehabilitation

Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Complaint against procedural violations

Demand for better access to common land/resources

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Regularisation of land, construction of sewer lines and hospitals

Region Classification

Urban

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971
Section 2(e) [Definition of public premises to mean land belonging to Union government] Section 4 [The Estate Officer is required to issue notice to person involved in unauthorised occupation of public premises, within seven working days of receiving information about such occupation] Section 5 [Eviction of unauthorised occupants to happen only after notice under Section 4 is issued and after personal hearing. Any order of eviction passed by the estate officer to contain recording of reasons]
  1. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  2. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  3. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  4. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  5. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  6. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

  7. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

No

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Land record discrepancies

Forced evictions/dispossession of land

Lack of legal protection over land rights

Non-rehabilitation of displaced people

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Pending

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

High Court of Uttarakhand, Supreme Court of India

Case Number

WP (PIL) 178/2018, MCC 16/2017 (Uttarakhand High Court), SLP 1533-1535/2017 (Supreme Court)

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

The case of Ravi Shankar Joshi v. State of Uttarakhand and Ors. (WP (PIL) 178/2013) was disposed of through an order dated November 9, 2016. Through this order, the Uttarakhand high court directed the divisional railway manager, North Eastern Railways, to remove encroachments on 29 acres of Abadi land within 10 weeks. In response, a review application was filed by the state (MCC 16/2017), which was disposed of through an order dated January 10, 2017. The court noted in this order that the subject land belongs to the Railways and that the state government ought to help the Railways in evicting encroachers. Taking up an application filed by the Railways on the same day (CLMA 243/2017), the court further stated that it is the sovereign/regal responsibility of the state to maintain law and order and, thus, it should provide adequate police force to the railway authorities. The court noted that if the state failed to do so, the Railways could requisition the services of CRPF/ITBP/BSF. Several Special Leave Petitions had been filed in the Supreme Court by private parties as well as the state government against the orders dated November 9, 2016, and January 10, 2017. The Supreme Court, through an order dated January 18, 2017, allowed the parties to move the high court to recall such orders. The parties also complained that they had not been heard or were in receipt of the eviction notices. The Supreme Court explicitly noted that orders had to be passed by the high court only after the parties had been given an opportunity to be heard. On November 22, 2019, the high court took cognizance of the new developments and permitted the parties to file a fresh writ petition. The last hearing in the matter was on April 7, 2021. As per the last order, a survey report on the subject land has been submitted by the state government to the high court. The matter was supposed to be heard next on May 6, 2021. However, there is currently no update on this.

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

No items found.

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

No

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Stone pelting

Property damage/arson

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Indian Railways

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Banbhoolpura Sangharsh Samiti

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

Image Credit:  

Image Credit:  

APN News

Documented By

Text Link

Reviewed By

Text Link

Updated By

Text Link

Edited By

Text LinkLand Conflict Watch
X

Support our work

Your contribution ensures continuity of this crucial project.

As a member, you will get exclusive access to special reports, policy papers and research projects undertaken by Land Conflict Watch and behind-the-scenes interactions with the writers and researchers about their work.
Join Now