Suburban rail works hit; govt fails to give Binny land

Decongesting the Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna railway station is crucial to building a viable suburban train network for the city. DH FILE PHOTO

 Key railway projects that will facilitate the operation of suburban trains have been put on the backburner, as the Karnataka government is sitting on the railways' request for land for creating additional infrastructure. 

Following the government's demand for local trains, the South Western Railway (SWR) sought 10 acres of the Binny Mills land next to the Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna railway station in 2012. 

In January 2017, the government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the suburban rail project, which included a facility to maintain MEMU trains at Banaswadi. The railways sought 40 acres belonging to the NGEF for building the maintenance shed. 

Railway officials say they have not heard from the government on either land. "We have not received any communication from the government on facilitating the acquisition of land in both the places," R S Saxena, Divisional Railway Manager, Bengaluru, told DH

He said the railways had been running around 100 suburban services with the limited infrastructure and that the introduction of any more services would affect long-distance passenger and freight trains. 

As per the minutes of a meeting held in August 2017, the government told the railways that acquiring the Binny Mills land, estimated to cost more than Rs 60 crore, would not be feasible. "We were not consulted before its feasibility was decided. Any suburban network will not be complete without decongesting the KSR station," a source in the SWR said. 

To a question on cost-sharing, the source said such discussions would follow only after the government responded positively to the proposal. "In 2012, it was the government that suggested we acquire the land. Now, it says that's not feasible," he said. 

Urban transport activist Sanjeev Dyamannavar said acquiring the Binny Mills land was crucial for adding platforms and that the matter had been discussed for almost a decade now. "Any more delay will directly affect the suburban project and limit the introduction of new long-distance trains. It also affects proposed projects like the Chennai-Mysuru high-speed rail," he added. 

Last year, the government told the railways the NGEF land was "not encumbrance-free" as a German company has a 10% stake in the factory. "Even after the Centre sanctioned Rs 29.5 crore for the project, we are yet to get the land. Now, they are telling us to look for alternative land in Whitefield," the source in the railways said. 

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