Railway Coaches as Shelters: Easier said than done

HYDERABAD: Weeks after the Centre unveiled plans to turn discarded railway coaches into shelters for the homeless, railway officials said that the project could go off the track due to various problems that may crop up in executing it.

SCR sources said that for instance in Hyderabad, till date, the civic authorities have not sent them details of the areas where these shelter coaches have to be stationed.

“Since the decision has been taken by the Centre, we will have to work with the urban housing department to make the project a reality but the feasibility is in doubt because of certain issues,” said a railway officer about the project that is being jointly spearheaded by the Union railways and urban housing ministries.

Speculation is rife that the wheels of the abandoned coaches will be removed and placed in areas to be specified by the municipal authorities.

Elaborating on the reason for this buzz, railway authorities said it will be difficult to restrict the entry of unauthorised persons into railway premises if the coaches are stationed on unused tracks and may even turn into dens for miscreants.

Besides, the railways earns a considerable amount of money by selling the scrap of discarded coaches. For instance, an eight wheeler BG coach (lot number TPY2110CH10J) was recently auctioned off for Rs 3.55 lakh.

SCR authorities said they are clueless about the number of coaches they will have to arrange across Telangana as the state government is yet to estimate the number of people to be accommodated in these defunct coaches.

A member of Telangana Mission for Elimination of Poverty in Municipal Areas said the unused coaches will be used as a temporary housing measure as the state government is coming up with permanent shelters for the homeless in the state.

In Hyderabad, two such permanent shelters are about to be completed, while construction of five more is in progress. Apart from the upcoming seven shelters, 12 are functional, according to municipal dept. sources. “We may require four to five railway coaches to accommodate the homeless temporarily in Hyderabad, until the construction of permanent shelters is completed. We have requested the municipal commissioners in Telangana to confirm the locations where the railway coaches are to be put up,” he said.