Stalled: State govt to rethink suburban rail plan

Stalled: State govt to rethink suburban rail plan

The tough stance of the railways against giving its land for the suburban rail at a nominal cost is likely to send the state government back to drawing board as it seeks to reduce Rs 6,500 crore land acquisition cost.

The railways outrightly rejected some of the major demands that formed the government’s 19 conditions for approving the suburban rail feasibility report.

The 161 km suburban rail corridor requires 650 acres of railway land for which Karnataka offered to pay Re 1 per acre. State officials also sought to extend the project to neighbouring cities of Ramnagaram, Tumkuru and Kolar.

“The railway board’s stand was communicated to the state government by SWR officials last month. The letter only puts a final word on it. If we go by the rules, the government has to spend about Rs 6,500 crore for railway land and Rs 2,500 crore to acquire private land. A meeting will be held next week to decide whether there is any way we can reduce land acquisition further,” a senior official in the government said.

The railway board has expressed surprise over the government increasing the suburban rail network from 161 km to 360 km. The letter noted that the government never raised objections or sought modifications to the corridor in several meetings held throughout the process of clearing a pre-feasibility report and preparing the feasibility report.

“Despite the Ministry of Railway’s cooperation...and favourably considering the changes proposed by GoK in the suburban policy, it appears that the state government is genuinely not interested in the project,” the report said.

The railways accepted some of the conditions, including prioritising station construction on basis of demand and cited the suburban rail policy to note that most of the conditions, including the mandatory approval for taking up work on the suburban railway line, go against the rule.