No free rly land for suburban project: PMO

No free rly land for suburban project: PMO

A promise made by Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to provide railway land virtually free of cost for the suburban rail project has now been revoked as per the directions of the Prime Minister’s Office, which has also sought a reworking of the project, pushing it further away from reality.

In February, days after the Railway Board rejected the state government’s demand for leasing the railway land at Re 1 per acre, Goyal had held discussions with Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and announced at a press conference that his ministry has accepted the demand.

The draft detailed project report (DPR) had estimated that 717 acres of railway land worth Rs 6,700 crore is required for the project. In its letter to K-RIDE, the implementing agency of the state government, the Railway Board has quoted a direction from the PMO to state that the land can’t come free for the project.

“The project financials may be worked out considering the railway land as per applicable lease charge. However, this should be shown separately to facilitate any decision on models of implementation, i.e PPP or otherwise, in future,” the direction reads.

Officials in the South Western Railway headquarters, however, noted that the lease charge will be much lesser. “It will be much lesser than the cost of the land,” an official said.

Another official said the Railway Board had stipulated 6% to 10% of land cost as lease charges for various projects. “The project cost goes up by about Rs 500 crore. Even when K-RIDE drafts a new DPR to connect suburban towns as per the PMO direction, the lease cost of railway land will have to be incorporated,” an official said.

The PMO has further directed the officials to rework the project to ensure that suburban rail services do not compete with Namma Metro. “The suburban lines should be planned to bring people from/to suburban areas and for their development as nodal centres. The core of the city itself should be served by metro/bus etc,” the letter states.

“Restructuring the project by connecting Tumakuru, Ramnagar, Kolar and other towns require a detailed survey and estimates of land required for the project. It may take another year to come up with a DPR,” an SWR official said.

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