BANGALORE: The Indian Railways is likely to accord top priority to several pending projects in the State this year, with some of them proposed to be executed under public-private-partnership for speedy completion.
Given the extensive railway network requirement for the State, estimated to be over 1,100 km, and the huge expenditure involved (around Rs. 6,000 crore), the State Government has proposed to opt for the PPP model to ensure expeditious execution of the projects.
Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, in a meeting with Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa during her visit to Bangalore recently, is said to have promised to share 23 per cent of the cost of the proposed five PPP projects.
The State Government will look after 23 per cent of the cost and the rest shall be by the private partner.
The Karnataka Rail Development Corporation (K-Ride) might form special purpose vehicles (SPVs) to execute these projects under PPP on the lines of Hassan–Mangalore Rail Development Corporation, which is a subsidiary of K-Ride, sources in the Infrastructure Development Department told The Hindu.
The projects proposed through K-Ride include the 167 km-long Hubli–Ankola line for port connectivity, 140 km-long Bijapur–Shahabad line for development of cement industrial zone, 84 km-long Shimoga–Harihar line for development of industrial zone, 84 km-long Gadag–Haveri line for port connectivity and industrial zone and 52 km-long Whitefield–Kolar–Mulbagal for development of industrial zone.
The Government has said that if the Ministry of Environment and Forests does not permit the Hubli–Ankola line, the Railways can take up the 83 km-long Talaguppa–Honnavar line instead. The Government has also urged the Railways to execute four projects on its own.
They include the 142 km-long Kudachi–Bagalkot line for development of cement industrial zone, 210 km-long Tumkur–Davangere line to reduce travel time between north and south Karnataka, 150 km-long Alamatti–Koppal line for connectivity of cement and iron industry zone to ports on the eastern coast, and 109 km-long doubling of Londa–Goa (Vasco-da-Gama) line for enhanced port connectivity.
The proposal to the Railways is a follow up of the Industrial Policy 2009, which among other things had focussed on development of steel industries in Bellary, Koppal, Bagalkot, Gadag and Raichur districts; cement industry in Gulbarga, Bagalkot, Chitradurga and Belgaum districts; food processing industry in Bangalore Rural, Kolar and Belgaum districts; automobile industry in Ramanagara, Shimoga, Dharwad and Kolar districts and power generation in Raichur, Bellary, Bijapur and Chitradurga districts.
Sources said that the Railways had earmarked Rs. 1,848 crore for new lines during 2009-10 for the entire country, which is the highest amount earmarked so far.
In this background, the Railways will not undertake all the nine projects estimated to cost nearly Rs. 6,000 crore on its own for Karnataka alone.