Indian Railways has identified its surplus unused land in its control to the tune of about 12000 acres and decided to offer them to various State Governments. This can be termed as one of the biggest Central Government exercises in good housekeeping. Indian Railways have written to various State Governments, asking them to transfer the land patches as per extant provisions of the General Finance Rules (GFR) of Government of India.
These land parcels are now surplus to Railway’s requirements. Some of these lands have been in possession of the Railways, prior to year 1900 even. Railway Board Member (Engineering) Sri M.K. Gupta has recently written to Chief Secretaries of 13 States asking them to indicate their need/requirement of these land parcels. Most of these land parcels are away from the Railway lines. It is on most of these land patches that Metre gauge lines used to exist then. Some of these areas were host to quarry sidings, salt sidings or old stations/section which have since been closed.
Under Uni-gauge policy, all Metre/Narrow Gauge lines have been converted to Broad-Gauge, barring a handful. Though gauge conversion has been carried out on existing route, in some cases detours from existing metre gauge/narrow gauge had to be undertaken due to technical requirement or to meet demands for better connectivity to more populous areas.
The land parcels have been offered to the States at either market rates or on the basis of exchange of land with State government land which may be useful to the Railways on equitable cost basis. A patch of 50.87 hectares, roughly 125 acres has been offered to State Govt. of Odisha. This land is very near to Hirakud in East Coast Railway and it was said to have been used by Railways for ferrying materials for construction of Hirakud Dam in early 1960s.
Similarly, A patch of 11.64 hectares has been lying surplus and in abandoned condition since long in Tilwara in Rajasthan. It is here that the Tilwara Animal Fair used to be organized.
Total land identified by Indian Railways for returning to the 13 States is to the tune of 4883 hectares, roughly translating to 12000 acres plus. It is expected that the States would be immensely benefitted by this move. Land is a very critical commodity nowadays. It is very much required for various Industries, Roads, Highways, Ports, etc. These lands can be added to the State’s Land Bank Kitty and used for productive/gainful purposes.
Present Railway Minister Sri Piyush Goyal, known to be an astute administrator himself, has always been against idling of resources and of Railways sitting over huge land parcels of no gainful use to the organization. He put his officials on the job and identified these land parcels to be given to States.
National resources lying idle and surplus, when it can be actually used for better and productive purposes, need to be given top priority as far as disposal is concerned. The thirteen States include Assam, Karnataka, Gujrat, Tamilnadu, Chhatisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Odisha.