A world-class New Delhi station remains a pipe dream
Though the rail budget offers only Rs. 100 crore for stations in the Capital, the railway ministry has not completely shelved the concept of a world-class station in Delhi.india Updated: Feb 26, 2013 23:45 IST
Though the rail budget offers only Rs. 100 crore for stations in the Capital, the railway ministry has not completely shelved the concept of a world-class station in Delhi.
Soon after presenting the budget, minister Pawan K Bansal said, "New Delhi railway station can be converted into a world-class station with airport-like facilities, if there is a public-private partnership."
"We have not shelved the project. Any project to turn New Delhi railway station into a world-class one would be a self-financing one, based on PPP model. You don't get money from the ministry for that. Like GMR has developed the Delhi airport and it's recovering its expenditure from passengers," said a senior northern railway official.
"Even otherwise, we had not sent any proposal for a world-class station to the ministry for budgetary attention. We're working on smaller schemes," the official said.
"With the money granted, we can do a lot. Like, for example, we can build a new platform at Nizamuddin and develop Sarai Rohilla and Shakur Basti stations," he said.
"With this money, we can improve the overall premises, water supply, platforms. Right now, we're not looking at big-ticket projects such as the one for separate arrival and departure areas like airports," the official said.
In the run-up to the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the railway ministry raised big hopes with its plans to spend a staggering Rs. 12,000 crore to upgrade the station to truly global standards. But this never materialised, said a senior official.
Various land-owning agencies in the national Capital, however, objected to the plan, saying that Connaught Place was already congested and massive commercial development near the shopping arcade will further add to the chaos.
Despite a constant rise in the number of trains and passengers since, the railway authorities are struggling with a budget of only Rs. 250 crore to "bring about an international feel" to the station.
Criticising the budget, Delhi BJP chief Vijay Goel said, "Rs. 100 crore for Delhi stations is grossly inadequate as not even a proper road can be built with this amount. Okhla, Dwarka and Holambi Kalan stations were planned long ago but nothing has happened. Satellite towns such as Noida were to be connected via dedicated lines but nothing materialised even on that front."