The Uttarakhand High Court’s ruling ordering the eviction of 50,000 people residing on railway property in the state’s Haldwani district was stayed by the Supreme Court on Thursday.
The highest court demanded a practical solution, stating that it would be impossible to relocate that many people overnight. The next hearing will take place on February 7.
Affected persons claim that although the contested area was just 29 acres, the Railway delivered eviction notices to residents on 78 acres of land.
However, Haldwani is not the only location where human settlements have grown over the course of decades on railway land, prompting repeated protests, vote-bank politics, and judicial action.
Other Decisions by SC:
The court also halted all building there and asked the railroads and the Uttarakhand government for their comments. The matter will reportedly be heard once more the month later.
A day after activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan made a formal motion, Supreme Court Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and AS Oka took up the issue.
Residents who have been participating in candle marches, sit-ins, and prayer vigils to prevent the eviction are greatly relieved by the order.
The area includes the Banbhulpura neighborhood’s Gafoor Basti, Dholak Basti, and Indira Nagar, which is a 2-km-long strip of land close to the Haldwani railway station.
How much land is under dispute?
The central government had stated last year that encroachment was occurring on about 814 hectares of railway land. According to the government, the majority of encroachments took the shape of slums next to railroad tracks. The same are on the approaches to metro stations and other large cities.
The Supreme Court ruled last year the railways were also in charge of preventing encroachment on their property. The court also stated that during the past 75 years, encroachment of public land has been a “sad reality”.
The Issue exists since 2013
2013 saw the case enter court after a petition regarding unauthorized sand mining in a nearby river was filed.
Following a lengthy legal battle, the district administration published a notice in the press. Ordering residents to remove their possessions by January 9 in response to the court’s ruling of December 20.