One of the promises of the NDA government before coming to power was to develop 400 stations but the scheme was launched in February 2017
Indian Railways is set to spend Rs 5000 crore on revamping 68 stations, intent on starting its ambitious station redevelopment project just before 2019 Lok Sabha elections. It will also rework the conditions for the private partnership to make the proposal more inviting for companies, as per a report in The Economic Times.
One of the promises of the NDA government before coming to power was to develop 400 stations but the scheme was launched in February 2017. The government had hoped for this project to be India’s largest public-private partnership, but it garnered a mellow response from the corporates.
In its first phase, the project picked up 23 stations, including Indore, Pune, Thane, Borivali, Bandra Terminus and Jammu Tawi but it has not seen much progress in the past year.
Suresh Prabhu, Railway minister at that time, expected an investment of Rs 1 lakh crore from private players. The government invited bids and business ideas to provide basic amenities at the stations, in return allowing commercial use of Railway land.
“The most valuable real estate anywhere in the country is where there is a railway station where there is a captive audience. Stations have a huge commercial value by virtue of the fact that so many people use it. The challenge is how to monetise this invaluable asset and generate money for Railways and provide amenities for passengers,” Prabhu had told ET.
The project was also linked with Smart cities mission, and the Rail Ministry tied up with Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. Prabhu had said that if 100 smart cities are created, 100 stations will be redeveloped.
The deal, however, did not appeal to the corporates because of the restrictions the Railways had imposed and the concession period of 45 years did not seem viable to them. Smart cities mission took off independently and this project could not catch up due to lack of funds.
Only a few stations were awarded to the corporates, and the other stations were left to their condition till a solution could be thought of.
Due to these issues, the project ended up getting delayed. The ministry has finally resorted to investing in the project on its own, along with some tweaks to the original terms of their proposal to try and rope in some corporates.The Railway Ministry has already allocated funds to the zonal railways and has asked for the work to be finished within this financial year.