Suburban rail issues to be fixed before Budget

The Railways have offered 650 acres land at a nominal rate in return for early clearance of the DPR by the Karnataka government

The state government and the Railways will sort out all issues pertaining to the Bengaluru suburban rail project before the Union Budget is presented, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara said on Thursday.

Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy had convened a meeting of top government officials including Chief Secretary T M Vijaybhaskar to discuss various clarifications sought by the Railways on the project, including cost-sharing, land acquisition and setting up of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV).

Railway officials, including Divisional Railway Manager R S Saxena, also attended the meeting. However, the meeting remained inconclusive since some issues were not discussed and the chief minister said he will get back to them in a few days. At the same time, the government has agreed to release funds for the work in the state budget to be presented next month.

Parameshwara, who also holds the Bengaluru development portfolio, told reporters that all aspects pertaining to the project will be sorted out before the Union Budget as the state was keen on getting grants for the project from the financial year 2019-20 itself.

A detailed project report was submitted by Rail India Technical and Economic Services (Rites) in December. At the meeting on Thursday, the two parties agreed in principle on the necessity of approving the report immediately and that contentious issues can be sorted at the stage of detailed design. The state government agreed to start processing the DPR in a couple of days.

The Railways have offered 650 acres land at a nominal rate in return for early clearance of the DPR by the Karnataka government. Similarly, land belonging to the state government (nearly 150 acres) can also be given on the same principle.

The dedicated corridors, projects estimated at Rs 1,745 crore, including doubling between Baiyyappanahalli and Hosur (48 km) with electrification and automatic signalling from Baiyyappayanahalli to Salem, doubling of Yeshwantpur-Lottegollahalli-Hebbal-Banaswadi-Baiyyappanahalli-Channasandra (21.7 km) among others will be taken up by the Railways alone.

The state government has also expressed concern that the rate of return of the project is very low at 1.3%.

Replying to queries on the BJP opposing the proposed steel flyover project between Esteem Mall and Chalukya Circle, Parameshwara said, “What have they (BJP) done to ease traffic congestion in Bengaluru? They have no foresight. One has to think 20 years ahead in the aspect of traffic and elevated corridors will be helpful to people”.

On opposition by citizens’ forums, Parameshwara said, “They can come up with alternatives, we are open to it.”

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