Southern Railway evicts Encroachers at MRTS Stations

Chennai (MAS): Southern Railway on Wednesday evicted 16 commercial establishments, who were illegally encroaching railway property, from the Chintadripet MRTS railway station.

The establishments included several well known omni-bus operators who had been running their parcel service for more than ten years without any permission from Southern Railways, railway sources said.

The Railway officials earlier indicated that the plots were leased out to a contractor when the station was under construction under the Metropolitan Transport Projects (MTP) more than 13 years ago. This contractor sub-let it to other commercial establishments which included these omni-bus operators, law-firms and a printing press, officials indicated.

“After the expiry of the lease, the establishments kept plying their trade by claiming that they were paying rent to the original lessee,” an official said.

Later, Southern Railways obtained an eviction notice that had been obtained from a city civil court in 2010, but some of the establishments managed to obtain a stay order which had prevented Southern Railway from taking action. “After this incident, the shops that continued to operate tried to send us cheques in lieu of the rent, but they were duly returned to them,” the official said.

Based on a counter-affidavit filed by Southern Railways, the court vacated the stay order and gave the establishments time until March 25 to vacate the premises, railway officials said. On Wednesday morning at around 10 am, accompanied by a JCB truck and 80 Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel, the encroachers were removed and their establishments were razed. The operation lasted for around six  hours and was supervised by the engineering department of the Chennai division of Southern Railways.

Three offices station complex, including the law firms could not be evicted, railway officials said as notices against them were not received. None of the proprietors of the offices which were vacated could be reached for comment.