Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy on Friday announced that an agreement has finally been reached between the state and centre on forming a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the suburban railway project in Bengaluru. The announcement comes just ahead of the Lok Sabha poll dates being declared. As part of the agreement, the Railway Board will give 650 acres of its land at Re 1 per acre, and in turn, the Karnataka government will bear partial costs of doubling two lines, estimated to cost Rs 1,700 crore.
In a joint press conference alongside Kumaraswamy, Goyal said the long-awaited rail network connecting 82 stations spread over 160 km costing Rs 23,000 crore will be completed in six years.
Goyal said, “The ‘19’ conditions subject to which ‘in principle’ approval was given by Karnataka state cabinet will be ratified, as mutually agreed during the meeting today.”
The CM also assured, “In next cabinet meeting of Government of Karnataka scheduled to be held on February 25, cabinet resolution will be passed on the same. GO to that extent will be communicated to Ministry of Railways for further taking up the project.”
A statement from the Indian Railways further stated, “Minister of Railways agreed for granting railway land for the project at very nominal lease basis of Re.1 per acre, which will reduce the cost of project by about Rs.6700 crores, nearly by 30 %. Government of Karnataka agreed for unequivocal right of FSI ‘5’ on railway land to Indian Railway for financing of project.
Government of Karnataka will approve the entire corridor without any curtailment. It is also agreed by Government of Karnataka will do cost sharing of two doubling projects Baiyyappanahalli-Hosur, Yesvantpur-Banaswadi-Hosur which was initially agreed and later disagreed upon by State Government.”
As part of this project, the Kempegowda International Airport will also be connected to the city via the suburban rail system. Out of the 83 stations, 12 including Majestic will have intermodal connectivity with the Bengaluru Metro. The announcement comes after days of disagreement between the state and Centre over the cost sharing of the project. The Ministry of Railways had also expressed surprise at Karnataka increasing the length of the rail project to 360 km without prior intimation.
The announcement was awaited as the Karnataka Chief Minister gave an in-principal nod to the project based on a pre-feasibility report readied by the Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) in January.
The 160 km of rail tracks will primarily cover four corridors:
a) Kengeri – Bengaluru Cantonment – Whitefield route
b) Bengaluru City – Yelahanka – Rajankunti
c) Nelamangala – Mathikere – Baiyyappanahalli
d)Heelalige – Yelahanka – Devanahalli near the airport)