Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, Oct 27:
In a joint drive launched this morning, the district administration and Railway authorities began evicting encroachers from land adjoining the Railway Station in Odisha’s pilgrim town of Puri.
The land will be used by the Railways for construction of a yatri nivas to provide accommodation to visiting pilgrims during the Nabakalebara festival next year. Nearly three million pilgrims are expected to land on the holy town to witness the unique event that comes once every 12-18 years.
Bulldozers and other earth moving equipment razed through the huts, temples et al in the Ramachandi Balikuda basti as slum dwellers scurried to salvage their belongings from the machines that crushed to rubble whatever came their way amid heavy deployment of policemen.
The slum dwellers had resisted the operations initially, but had to relent in the face of the massive machines and heavy deployment of policemen.
“We have deployed 20 platoons of policemen, eight DSPs and 12 inspectors of police to prevent any untoward incident. Part of the land belongs to the Railways whereas the rest belongs to the government and the municipality,”Puri SP Asish Singh said.
The SP, however, told the media that the police administration is there to help facilitate the basti dwellers to shift to whichever place they liked.
Basti dwellers however, complained that they were informed of the eviction only yesterday evening leaving them very little time to shift out.
“We have been staying here for so many years. Where will we go now? Where are our children going to study? We have no other option but to rebuild our huts here again,” said a basti dweller.
Though it was not officially known where the district administration was going to resettle these poor slum dwellers, sources said the there are plans for their resettlement in the Talabania area.
The district administration and police have set up a control room near the Puri Railway Station to oversee the eviction.
Sources said the administration has plans to evict encroachers from five acres of encroached land today.
Eviction was on at the time of filing this report.