The Indian Railways have asked the state government for extra commercial development rights on land it owns in Bandra (E), but is willing to spend only a third of the Rs 900 crore it will earn from it to improve rail transport in Mumbai.
This is against the state’s earlier understanding that the entire revenue — the plot is very close to the premium Bandra-Kurla Complex and has great development potential — would be used for improving rail infrastructure in the city.
The Railway Board, its chief governing body, wrote to the state this week, suggesting a funding pattern for the Rs 4,500-crore second phase of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project-II.
The project is aimed at improving the suburban rail system through the acquisition of 94 trains, new tracks, increasing train frequency in order to reduce commuter density from the present 5,000 per nine-coach train to 2,500. This would ease the daily travel of over 6.1 million city commuters, but the project has been stuck for the last 10 months because the authorities can’t decide on a funding pattern.
Additional Member (Planning), Railway Board, R.K. Goyal requested the state to more than double the floor space index (which governs how high you can build) allowed for the 10-acre plot land at Bandra (E). Presently, the permitted floor space index is 1, while the Railways would like 2 or 4; even more, if possible.
The letter, while demanding the concession, makes it clear that only Rs 300 crore would be pumped into improving the rail network.
The remaining Rs 600 crore will go to the railways’ kitty and could be used for any project — from a new rail line in Bihar to buying outstation trains.
Chief Secretary Johny Joseph told HT: “We received the letter on December 17 and will discuss this with the railways. Our calculations are different.” He said the state would ask for a higher share of the revenue from commercial development.
The new funding pattern suggested by the railways involves a state contribution of Rs 1,150 crore for the project instead of the earlier Rs 605 crore. The railways would, in turn, match the allocation and share the state’s loan burden of Rs 1,950 crore.
The loan will be serviced by charging commuters Re 1 extra on all tickets till 2030.