Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, Mar 19:
The Odisha High Court today granted an interim stay on the eviction notice served on traders doing business in the Malgodown area of Cuttack city, one of the biggest business hubs in the state.
While fixing the next date of hearing after two weeks, the court served notices to the state government, Railways and Cuttack collector in the matter.
Traders operating in the sprawling trade centre spread over 25 acres were served notice by the East Coast Railway (ECoR) to vacate the area by March 31 to facilitate the expansion of the infrastructure at the Cuttack railway station.
Malgodown area, considered the lifeline of traders from many parts of the state, has shops built on encroached land of which 80 percent is land belonging to the Railways and 20 percent to Ravenshaw University. Though the 99-year lease agreement with the traders expired in 1985-86, the traders were allowed to continue with their businesses in the larger interest of the people.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, during his stint as Railway minister, had given the go-ahead to the eviction to bring the encroached land back into the possession of Railways, but the order could not be carried out.
Railway authorities have justified the move to serve the eviction notice saying it has become necessary in view of the ongoing railway expansion work.
At least 5, 000 labourers, including trolley rickshaw pullers and truckers depend on the wholesale hub those houses over 200 shops and commercial establishments in the area.
Cuttack MP Bhartruhari Mahatab had raised the issue in the Lok Sabha yesterday and had demanded that the decision of the Railways be put on hold since the issue involved the livelihood of hundreds of people dependent on this bustling business hub.