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Demand for upgradation of Hojai railway station
 HOJAI, Jan 17 – The declaration by the NF Railway authority to convert Hojai Railway Station to ‘A’ grade model station along with four other stations in the year 2006, July 6 has remained on paper only although the works were supposed to be started from the word go. Soon after the visit of the then General Manager, NF Railway to Hojai station nearly four years ago, a group of encroachers on railway land, moved the Gauhati High Court against the possible eviction but the High Court by an order asked the applicants to move the appropriate authority.

As many as 17 cases were filed in the district court of Nagaon seeking their right to stay on railway land. However, all the cases were dismissed and thus paved the way to clear the land for improvement of Hojai station on the northern side of the station where construction of a second platform, new station building with computerised reservation system, and vehicle parking place, including provision of round about taking into consideration that more than 80 per cent passengers avail rail service mainly from northern part of the station.

Even after legal hurdles were crossed, the inordinate delay in starting the convertion processes, evoked strong resentment among the people. Recently, at the initiative of an NGO ‘Astha’, leading citizens, youth organisations, political leaders and intellectuals gathered at a meeting to discuss the issue of improvement of Hojai Railway Station chaired by Kamal Dutta, the AGP leader of Hojai.

Initiating the discussion, Santi Debnath a social activist and member of Hojai Railway Station development committee said that out of 40,700 sq ft of railway land about 19,000 sq ft is under illegal encroachment. What was more intriguing was that more than 14,000 were under the capture of 14 rich families. Out of a total of 347 persons who have been occupying land, 295 are petty traders, he said.

Debnath expressed his disappointment over the silence maintained by both the local MP and MLA on this vital issue and called for an early solution acceptable to all to enable conversion of the station into a model railway station.

Dr Ardhendu Kr Dey, ex-minister stressed the need to decide first what to be done to get the functioning of Hojai station as declared by the rail authority shedding all political differences. He favoured adoption of necessary steps after confirming whether eviction files were with the DC Nagaon. Dr Dey favoured consideration of rehabilitation issues of the pretty traders when they were evicted from railway land. If situation so demanded in the greater interest of Hojai, Chief Minister’s intervention would be sought.

Speaking from the chair, Kamal Dutta voiced the same line of Dr Dey not to politicalize development issues of Hojai and appealed to find out an acceptable solution in the matter of station upgrade without further delay.

Several speakers including Babul Das, ex-chairman HMB, prof Pradip Bagchi, Dr KC Sarmah, advocate Sailen Das, advocate Samir Baran Roy, Pradeep Sureka, Newaz Ahmed, Sanjit Sarkar asstt. secry, Hojai Press Club, represntatives of AASU, ABVP and NSUI expressed indignation over indifferent attitude of NF Railway, and made a strong plea to compel the authority concerned to implement works to upgrade the long-pending demand.

To expedite model station works and to take future course of action, a committee, Hojai Railway Station Development Forum was formed with Pradip Sureka as president, Santi Debnath as working president, Samirbaran Roy as secretary, Shyamal Roy as organising secretary, four vice-presidents namely Dr AK Dey ex-minister, Kamal Dutta, Dr KC Sharma and Babul Das both ex-chairpersons HMB as advisors.

After all court cases went in favour of the railway department, the issue of eviction operation was raised with the district administration on some occasions and for law and order help from Railway side. Sources close to divisional railway manager (DRM) office, Lumding, informed that letters were sent from DRM office to DC Nagaon even fixing dates of eviction operation but till date there has been no response from the administration, the sources added.