Have you ever wondered as to who owns the immense acreage on the side of railway tracks? Curiously, Indian Railways have been the owners of prime property worth thousand of crores in several cities of the country. Railways, it seems, have recently woken up to the reality of its inefficient land management. Railway Land Development Authority (RLDA) created by the Railway (Amendment) Act, 2004 is meant to act as a regulatory body for effective utilisation of Railway owned vacant land.
Statistically, 75.2% of the 4.23 lakh hectares that the Railways owns are used for operational purposes. Importantly, almost 10.14% remains vacant or unused. Surprisingly, 0.47% also has been reported to be illegally occupied by unscrupulous elements. To change the state of affairs, RLDA has rolled the bidding process for developing its property in several cities. Thirteen sites in Kolkata, Visakhapatnam, Delhi, Gwalior, and Bengalooru have been picked up for development. While we might see shopping malls cropping up on Railway land, RLDA must also pay attention to the land besides the railway tracks. That land can be used both for social forestry as also as a minor water pool for irrigation of nearby agricultural fields.