Ahead of the 2014 polls, the UPA government is moving ahead with another big-ticket rail project: A rail coach factory at Pallakad in Kerala.
“The request for qualification (RFQ) for the R600-crore project will shortly be invited. We also expect to begin the process of shortlisting the bidders within this fiscal,” Railway Board chairman (CRB) Arunendra Kumar told HT.
The Pallakad factory has long been mired in political controversies despite the Kerala government — nearly four years ago — having offered land free of cost to set up the factory.
“All the issues have been sorted. An inter-ministerial group comprising officers of the ministries of finance, law and railways – as well as the planning commission – approved the draft RFQ for the project earlier this week,” Kumar said.
The factory, to be set up in three years, will have a capacity to manufacture 400 state-of-the-art aluminium coaches annually. It is planned as a joint venture with the railways contributing 26% of the equity.
The LDF government led by VS Achutanandan had acquired 430 acres for the project in 2009, which it had offered to the railways — provided the facility was built as a public fund and not as a PPP project.
As the railways plans to build the factory under the PPP mode, it has now purchased 239 acres from the Kerala government. “The state government had initially offered 430 acres free of charge,” Pallakad MP MB Rajesh said.