Cabinet nod for railways’ plans to commercially develop space at stations

New Delhi: Paving the way for large-scale modernization of railway stations, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved Railways’ station redevelopment plans so as to commercially develop space in and around stations, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Wednesday.

The Cabinet, under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also provided for a longer lease tenure of up to 99 years from the previous 45 years.

According to Prasad, the name of the agency would be Indian Railway Stations Development Corp Ltd (IRSDC). Calling the Cabinet decision a progressive move, Prasad said: “IRSDC shall be the nodal agency for the development of railway stations across the country.”

Developing railway facilities will not only benefit the commuters but also help the Indian Railways make use of its unused or under-used properties.

“It was a decisions based on the feedbacks collected from the government’s earlier railway modernisation attempts,” Prasad said.

The Minister said redevelopment of major stations across the country is planned by leveraging commercial development of land and air space in and around the station, saying “this program will help provide state-of-the-art amenities for passengers, generate additional revenues and will be overall at least cost neutral to Ministry of Railways over a basket of stations.”

“Furthermore, redevelopment of railway stations across the country will have a multiplier effect in the economy with increased job creation and improved economic growth.”

“IRSDC being the nodal agency will prepare the overall strategic plan and business plans for individual or a group of stations ensuring cost neutrality of this programme. Upon approval of business plans by Ministry of Railways, IRSDC or other project development agencies will take up the work of station redevelopment,” Prasad said.

He said that Railway/RLDA/IRSDC will be planning and development authority for Railway land in consultation with urban local bodies, DDA or other Union Territories, to transfer land on free-hold basis to Railways. This would enable Ministry of Railways to accelerate the redevelopment of major stations across the country on an overall cost neutral basis. These redevelopment efforts will lead to creation of state-of-the-art smart stations that will function as mini smart cities.

“Railway passengers and Industry shall be benefited at large. Passengers will now get amenities at par with international railway terminals and a large number of local job creation is expected as a positive external outcome of this program,” he added.

A Cabinet approval was obtained on June 24, 2015 to redevelop ‘A1′ and ‘A’ category stations by Zonal Railways through Cabinet approved procedures and for a lease period of 45 years. However, insufficient interest was visible amongst the prospective bidders.

}