The Union Cabinet on Wednesday reportedly cleared and approved the much delayed 148-km-long suburban rail project for Bengaluru, sources said. However, no formal announcement was made as the election model code of conduct is in place.
Bypolls are scheduled to be held in two Assembly constituencies – Rajarajeshwarinagar in Bengaluru and Sira in Tumakuru – on November 3.
to sources, the proposed existing four corridors have been retained, but the estimated cost for the project had changed. Karnataka Rail Infrastructure Development Enterprises (K-RIDE), the agency which is executing the project, will float the tender once a formal announcement is made, sources added.
While briefing the media after the Cabinet meeting, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said that they could not give any information on the issue as the model code of conduct was in place in the city. However, he announced that the Union cabinet on Wednesday had given its approval for the revised cost for the Kolkata East-West Metro Corridor project.
The Bengaluru suburban rail project involves building four corridors connecting different parts of the city: KSR Bengaluru-Devanahalli, Baiyappanahalli-Chikkabanavara, Kengeri-Cantonment-Whitefield, and Heelalige-Rajanakunte.
Citizens’ groups and activists have carried out a series of campaigns for years to keep up pressure on governments to clear the project, which been mentioned in multiple Union budgets, including in 2019-20 and 2020-21.
However, a token amount of only ₹1 crore was allocated, as per the ‘Pink Book’ brought out by the Railways on Work, Machinery and Rolling Stock Programme of Railways for 2020-21, much to the disappointment of citizens of the city.
In the Union Budget 2020-21, the Centre announced that it would provide 20% of equity and facilitate external assistance up to 60% of the project cost, which was estimated at ₹18,600 crore. The project had been cleared by the Extended Railway Board (ERB) in November 2019.
Transport expert Sanjeev Dyamannavar of the advocacy group Praja said that now the focus should be on execution of the project as everything for start of the project was in place.
“K-RIDE is executing the project, the DPR is ready and there will not be any major issue with land acquisition as a major portion of the land for the project is with the Railways. Now, both the State and Union governments should allocate funds so that the project is implemented soon,” he said.
One of the most important aspects of urban development is coordination between various agencies. Bengaluru fails at this time and again, and at every level. Whether it is lack of coordination when it comes to roads — which are dug up after potholes are filled — or multiple attempts to decongest the city which never seem to get anywhere, the story is the same. A direct rail link to the airport would be a timesaver to lakhs of travellers in and out of the city, but failures — both at the state and central levels — seem to indicate this will not happen. And once again, citizens will suffer. The delay in the long-awaited suburban rail project may hit .. Read... more...
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman and her team of finance secretaries have been going across the country to speak to stakeholders regarding the Union Budget 2020. Sitharaman on Monday was in Bengaluru to speak to economists, industrialists, and later the media as part of a day-long session. In the Union Budget, the Finance Minister had announced that the Centre will cover 20 per cent of the total cost of the Bengaluru suburban rail project, the total cost of which has been estimated to be Rs 18,600 crore. Speaking about the financial allocation for the... more...
suburban rail project, Finance Secretary Rajiv Kumar said, “When an assurance is made in the house, it is made seriously. The commitment is to cover 20% of the cost of the project. The concurrence of the Finance Ministry is with the Railway Ministry, and when it comes, it will get approved; it’s a matter of time. There are no formalities left.” Recently, the South Western Railways (SWR) budget had made a token allocation of Rs 1 crore for the project. Speaking about this, Rajiv Kumar said, “The question of a token provision (budget of Rs 1 crore) is a budgeting technicality. The commitment is with the central government to cover 20% of the cost. We will also be giving sovereign guarantees (of repayment) to the remaining 60%, which comes from [various foreign banks]. This money must be repaid by the project itself.” While the spokesperson for the Railways had said that the Detailed Project Report (DPR) is awaiting clearance, the Finance Minister assured that the project has got clearance from the Cabinet and there would be no more hindrances. When TNM asked what happened about the previous budget’s allocation towards the suburban rail, the Finance Minister responded that officials are there to take questions on the current budget. She said, “About the previous budget, ask the Railway officer why it couldn’t happen and why he didn’t do anything. Money has not reached, but the budget is yet to be passed and the finance bill is waiting. The recommencement of the budget starts from March 2, when it gets passed, I can move the money.”
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