Indian Railways to return Surplus Land to States

NEW DELHI/BHUBANESWAR: The Indian Railways has decided to return surplus land to respective States. The land worth thousands of crores are abandoned or lying unutilised since years.

Expressing its willingness to transfer the land, the Railway Board has urged 13 States, including Odisha, where the surplus land parcels are located, to send proposals if they require it for developmental projects.

Sources said nearly 12,065 acres of land are lying idle in Assam, Karnataka, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Odisha.The Railways has 125.67 acres of land at Kalamati near Hirakud in Sambalpur district. The land located away from railway track but connected to the NH-6 was acquired in 1962-63 for Jharsuguda-Titlagarh section. Now, it comes under East Coast Railway (ECoR).

While the Odisha land was acquired in 1960s, some land parcels located in Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Maharashtra are in their possession for more than 100 years. Around 464 acres are lying unused in UP and Assam since 1893-94.The land was acquired by the Railways for gauge conversion in most of the sections under uni-gauge policy to improve the connectivity.

Since the gauge conversion has been carried out taking detour from the existing gauge either due to technical requirement or request from State Governments, land at locations of abandoned alignment of narrow/meter gauge section is not required by the Railways.

“Land is a very critical component for which various States are preparing land banks. The unutilised land with Railways is being returned for more productive and gainful use by States and it will add to the land banks,” Chief PRO of ECoR JP Mishra said.

Meanwhile, Member (Engineering) of Railway Board MK Gupta has sent letters to Chief Secretaries of 13 States to examine the need of the land parcels and send proposals to the respective Divisional Railway Managers (DRM) if they require the land.

Along with the State chief secretaries, the General Managers of all Zonal Railways have been asked to advise their respective DRMs to initiate process for transfer of land immediately once they get the proposals.

The land parcel can be used by the State concerned for construction of highways or road or any other purposes. The land can be transferred to State Governments according to the extant provision of the General Finance Rules (GFR) of the Centre.

The GFR states that when the Union Government no longer requires land in their possession, the State Government can assume possession subjected to the condition that the amount payable for the land will be charged at market value on the date of transfer.

The land can also be transferred on the basis of exchange of land with the State Government land which may be useful to the Railways on equitable cost basis.

Earlier, the Government think tank NITI Aayog had asked 26 PSUs, including railway PSUs to approach the State Governments for disposal of freehold land (not leased).Not only of railways, around 10 lakh acres of surplus land of 300 Central PSUs are lying vacant across the country, according to an estimate.