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Railways to give free houses to squatters: Mamata

Kolkata, June 13 (IANS) Union minister Mamata Banerjee said Sunday that the Indian Railways will provide free houses to squatters who are willing to vacate its land besides tracks across the country.

Under the scheme, a one-room flat with a kitchen and a toilet will be constructed and given as an alternative shelter to squatters opting to voluntarily move out of railway land, she said.

‘They will not have to pay anything for the houses. The railways will talk to the union urban development department for a joint venture for implementing the project,’ Banerjee said.

The decision for the project was discussed and finalised in a recent meeting of the Railway Board, she said.

The project, christened ‘Sukhi Griha Prakalpa’, would be kicked off only if the shanty dwellers agree to the railways’ proposal, she said.

‘We won’t forcibly evict anybody. We will do everything on the basis of consensus,’ she said.

A pilot project will be taken up in one of the zones on land identified by senior railway officials. ‘If the pilot project succeeds, the project will be implemented across the country,’ the minister said.

Every zone of the railways has a list of encroachers. ‘The flats will not be given to new encroachers,’ she said.

She said the Maharashtra government has come up with a proposal for a joint venture with the railways to provide alternative shelters to squatters.

‘Though the people in the squatters’ colonies do not have any legal right on the land, still they will be provided with the dwelling units for better functioning of the railways and for improving their living conditions,’ the minister said, before flagging off four local trains in the suburban section of Eastern Railway.

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