Bengaluru suburban rail: Finance Minister assures sanction of funds soon
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 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.”