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Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, November 20, 2012
In a move to widen the scope of infusion of private funds in major rail connectivity projects, the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure (CCI) will discuss the policy on "private participation in rail connectivity and capacity augmentation projects" at its meeting on Thursday.

The new policy, among other things, also envisages a proactive role for state governments in developing rail projects with help from private sector.

Barely two months after Trinamool Congress's exit from the railway ministry, the policy is being seen as the first move of the Manmohan Singh government to unleash reform process in the Indian railways.

Top sources in the government told HT that the cabinet note on this policy was pending for some time as railway minister Trinamool's nominee Mukul Roy was skeptical about further infusion of private capital. But with Pawan Kumar Bansal in charge of the ministry, the government will finally give it a push.

The new model will allow state governments, local bodies, beneficiary industries, ports, large import and export companies, co-operative societies, infrastructure and logistics providers, foreign direct investors to participate in building railway infrastructure

While the policy opens opportunity for high returns on investments for private players, it will also ensure timely availability of rail infrastructure to the beneficiaries such as port, industry and states.