The Supreme Court was hearing pleas challenging Uttarakhand High Court’s decision ordering the state authorities to remove encroachments from railway land in Haldwani’s Banbhoolpura area.
Putting a stay on the eviction drive in Haldwani in Uttarakhand on Thursday, the Supreme Court granted a month's time to the Indian Railways and the Uttarakhand government to come up with a "practical" solution to the "encroachments" issue. The court held that "50,000 people can't be uprooted within seven days".
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The Supreme Court said this while hearing the pleas challenging Uttarakhand High Court’s decision ordering the state authorities to remove encroachments from railway land in Haldwani’s Banbhoolpura area.
During the hearing, the court SC advised the government to develop a rehabilitation scheme for relocating persons on encroached land.
"The High Court has directed for eviction of people living for years in matter for seven days, using paramilitary forces. People who have stayed there for 50-60 years, some rehabilitation scheme must be found. There is a human angle to this. The government must develop a scheme to provide some rehabilitation. (We) have to find a practical solution to the issue," the Supreme Court said.
Meanwhile, petitioners, who apposed the eviction drive, told the Supreme Court that a total of 50,000 people will be impacted by orders of eviction. They said the land in question houses schools, hospitals and mosques. "Families in question have been living there for several decades," they said. "The orders for eviction were passed... without people being allowed a hearing," the petitioners argued.
The court has now posted the matter for further hearing on February 7.
According to the Indian Railways, there are 4,365 alleged encroachers on the land. The Uttarakhand High Court had on December 20 last year ordered demolition of constructions on encroached railway land at Banbhoolpura in Haldwani. It had directed for eviction from 29 acres of Railways land by local authorities. The high court had even allowed the "use of force". The petitions were filed in the Supreme Court against this high court order.
Protesting the eviction order, former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat recently held a silent protest in support of residents of Banbhoolpura area in Haldwani agitating against the removal of encroachments from railway land. The protesters said the removal of encroachments will render them homeless and jeopardise the future of their school-going children.
After the verdict on Thursday, Former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat said the Supreme Court's judgement will protect human rights. "We all were worried about demolition rendering 52,000 people homeless. The Supreme Court stayed the demolition. In 2016, we took steps regarding the rehabilitation of the people."
First Published: Jan 5, 2023 1:42 PM IST
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