With the Centre’s approval to the long-awaited suburban train project in Bengaluru, commuters are finally heaving a sigh of relief.
Union railway minister Piyush Goyal met chief minister HD Kumaraswamy on Friday and discussed land acquisition and cost-sharing concerning the project.
The Indian Railways has decided to allot land on lease for the project at a nominal rate of Re 1 per acre. Goyal’s meeting with Kumaraswamy, it seems, has favoured bringing down the project cost to Rs 16,300 crore from its initial estimate of Rs 23,000 crore.
The land-leasing norm will be applicable for a period of 45 years, to be extended to 99 years. Of the total land requirement of 800 acres for the project, about 617 acres will be railway land.
At a lower cost, the project is expected to pace forward sooner after being on hold by a set condition put forward by Kumaraswamy. However, “This is outside the suburban policy and we will have to go back and change it,” Goyal said.
The Centre’s decision to offer land at the given rate will, first, have to produce changes in the suburban railway policy to its effect. The new deal will save Rs. 6,700 crores of the tax payer’s money.
The project extends to 160km, envisages 12 inter-changes where people can change over from trains to buses or the metro rail for the last mile connectivity. It will be executed over six years at a projected cost of Rs 23,000 crore. About 70km of this will be elevated rail.
The Kumaraswamy government has also agreed to share the cost of doubling projects — Baiyannappahallli-Hosur, Yesvantpur-Banaswadi-Hosur. The project is expected to loan Rs. 10,598 crore from bilateral and multilateral agencies. In addition, the state and the Centre will put in Rs. 3,532 crore each into the project.