‘Encroachment’, a nemesis for Kolkata

The scene is not from Bihar or Jharkhand, but, proper Calcutta. Encroachment has hit Sovabazar-Ahiritola local railway station massively. There are innumerable small make shift shanties built on government land belonging to the Eastern Railways. The encroachers over more than a decade have been purportedly encroaching central government’s land without any hesitation and hindrances.

As a part of the local administration, the sovabazar region is controlled under Shyampukur constituency, headed by ruling TMC MLA Shashi Panja since 2011. When asked about the intentional encroachment at the railway line, the two time sitting MLA retaliated the condition as mere ‘generic’. “It is the duty of the local police and railway authorities to intervene into the matter”, she said.

However, the ground reality is distinctively different. According to local residents, despite acknowledging the ongoing malpractice the presiding KMC councillor is ignorant of taking any rigorous actions. Furthermore, the encroachers are even shifted temporarily if a team of Railway authority schedules a visit. On further investigation, one of the encroachers opened up and quoted, “whenever a team of railway officers is scheduled to visit, we are told by the ruling party member for shifting, until they are gone”.

Although, the encroachers are living in make shift shanties, they are not detached with smart technologies. Most of families own Smart phones, two-wheelers and other durables products.

The Sovabazar-Ahiritola railway track which is under encroachment is a den of illicit and unsocial activities. Illegal selling of cannabis, escorting and extortion are some of the widespread activities in the area. And unfortunately, no authoritative bodies take any coherent steps.

As a result, years of negligence by both the centre and state bodies has turned out to be critically upsetting. It is extremely vital to identify the infiltrators and their origin.

Rituparna Dutta

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