New Delhi, Feb 26: About 400 railway stations across the country would be re-developed through the public-private partnership (PPP) mode, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu announced on Thursday while presenting his budget for 2016-17.
“In a landmark decision, the cabinet has approved re-development of 400 stations through PPP. This is expected to be the largest transit oriented development in the world and, hence, involves complex decision making,” he said. Apart from this measure, the ministry is exploring availing multilateral financial investments to develop other stations and partnering with state governments, he said.
“On the basis of a bankable structure for private participation, it is proposed to undertake a bidding process for a few large and medium stations during the course of the next financial year,” Prabhu said in his 75 minute budget speech in English. The PPP cell will also be strengthened to improve ease of doing business with the railways.
In view of urgency to provide connectivity to ports across the 7,517km coastline, the minister said rail connectivity to ports at Nargol and Hazira in Gujarat would be taken up in the ensuing fiscal under PPP. To expand freight business, the railways plans to build three more dedicated freight corridors – north-south connecting Delhi to Chennai, east-west from Kharagpur in West Bengal to Mumbai and east coast from Kharagpur to Vijayawada.
“The three freight corridors will be put on high priority to ensure structuring, award and implementation in a time-bound manner through innovative financing mechanism, including PPP,” Prabhu said. The railways will develop new frameworks for PPP mode to spur rail infrastructure growth, he said.
“We will be at the forefront of infrastructure growth by forming joint ventures with states, developing new frameworks for PPP, scouting international markets for rupee bonds or engaging with multilateral and bilateral agencies,” the minister said.
Admitting that the magnitude of investment calls for abandoning the business as usual approach and innovating to find new ways of sourcing funds and executing projects, he said the capital plan for 2016-17 had been pegged at Rs.1.21 lakh crore.
“We have for the first time incorporated a statement in the ‘Pink Book’ of sanctioned works a list of partnership projects being undertaken with state government and other agencies,” Prabhu added. (IANS)