Panel accuses Railways of wasting 4.31 lakh ha of land

New Delhi, Nov 28 | Updated: Nov 29 2006, 05:30am hrs
Even as Indian Railways sits on 4.31 lakh hectares (ha) of prime land, it is not working towards developing them for supplementing its internal resource generation. This is one of the key points raised by the 14th Parliamentary standing committee report on land management by the railways.

The committee has criticised the railways ministry for not having formulated a business model for development of its vacant land, despite this being a key component of the Ninth Plan for railways.

The fact that the ministry has not been able to set up the Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA), even after a period of 10 years, has also annoyed the committee. While the ministry has already notified setting up of the RLDA, it has not been approved by the law ministry, which wants rules for the proposed body to be framed first.

As far as the development of surplus land is concerned, the panel has recommended that surplus railway land for commercial development should be leased on short-term basis only, for a maximum period of 30 years. This will ensure that railways will be able to retrieve it easily, if required, in the future.

About 2,033 ha of railway land, mainly in metros and urban areas, has been encroached upon. However, the committee has reported that railways is preparing a unified policy to deal with such encroachments.