By Elton Gomes
Making attempts towards the modernization of railways in India, the union cabinet agreed to undertake the commercial development of space in and around stations. Additionally, the Railways plans to build bullet train coaches locally.
On Wednesday, the union cabinet cleared a new policy for railway station redevelopment in terms of modernising railway stations. The Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation (IRSDC) has been chosen as the nodal agency for redevelopment projects, and the lease period for them has been increased to 99 years.
“IRSDC will be the nodal agency for station redevelopment now. It will take up a project based on its suitability,” said Union minister for electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad said while addressing a press conference, Business Standard reported.
What does the government plan to do?
The central government plans to invest about Rs 1 trillion in the development of 600 railway stations. Moving away from a zone-wise and station-wise allotment of projects, the railways will now be taking a cluster approach as part of the new policy.
The IRSDC, being the nodal agency, will now have more financial freedom, and will also be able to raise money from the market. Redevelopment work around major stations in India will be carried out by commercially developing land and airspace in and around the station, Business Standard reported.
Besides benefitting commuters, redeveloping the railways will also help the national carrier make use of its unused or under-used properties. “It was a decision based on the feedbacks collected from the government’s earlier railway modernisation attempts,” Prasad said, IANS reported.
The IT minister further said that redevelopment of major stations will help the railways as “this program will help provide state-of-the-art amenities for passengers, generate additional revenues and will be overall at least cost neutral to Ministry of Railways over a basket of stations.”
Prasad added that redevelopment or railways could result in a multiplier effect around the country, “Furthermore, redevelopment of railway stations across the country will have a multiplier effect in the economy with increased job creation and improved economic growth,” as per the IANS report.
What other decisions have been taken
Besides redevelopment of the railways, the cabinet committee on economic affairs has approved providing a financial package worth Rs 4.69 billion for the Revival and Mill Development Plan (RMDP) of Nepa Limited located in Nepanagar, Madhya Pradesh.
Additionally, implementation of Bhopal Metro Rail Project has been approved. The project involves building two corridors of 27.87 and 12.88 kilometres, which will connect major public nodes and city cluster areas in Bhopal.
India wants to manufacture bullet train coaches
The Indian Railways plans to give a ‘Make in India’ touch to the proposed bullet train project connecting Mumbai with Ahmedabad, two officials who were aware of the matter said.
India initially plans to import the high-speed trains, but will later look to offer one of the railway’s factories so that the coaches can be manufactured locally, the officials told the Hindustan Times on the condition of anonymity. In September, Indian Railways gave a presentation to a working group, which included representatives from India and Japan.
The presentation involved monitoring the implementation of the Mumbai-Ahmadabad High-Speed Rail project, and it proposed to build a Modern Coach Factory (MCF) in Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh, as a potential manufacturing site for bullet train coaches, one of the officials said.
“MCF has robotic production lines and can be ideal for bullet train coaches. We will have to transfer the technology from one of the companies (manufacturing such coaches in Japan),” the official said, Hindustan Times reported.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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