Railways minister Suresh Prabhu has initiated moves to set up a High Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) – an apex body to formulate the administrative, institutional and legal mechanism to execute the Mumbai-Ahmedabad and other high speed lines identified under the “Golden Quadrilateral” project.
“The recently submitted Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) report on the proposed Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed corridor is currently under evaluation. Appropriate action will follow”, Prabhu told HT.
Sources said the railways minister has held detailed discussions on the broad contours of the plan to set up the HSRA at a series of meetings with senior officials in past weeks. “The broad framework including the terms of reference of the proposed body are being discussed in detail”, officials added.
To function as a regulatory and monitoring body for the identified high speed projects, the HSRA will be expected to adjudicate possible disputes between different stake-holders including private players, while setting uniform technical standards for undertaking such projects, officials said.
The NDA government last year opened up to railway sector for 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) for are areas including the development of high speed networks.
The JICA report is also understood to have underscored the need for the Indian Railways to set up an apex body to regulate, monitor and set technical standards for high speed projects in India.
“In coming months or years, it is likely that other state governments will follow the Kerala government’s example, which set up a High Speed Rail Corporation last year. If technical standards are not defined or made uniform at this stage, matters might go haywire. Hence, the need to set up the HSRA”, an official explained.
While entrusting the execution task to the Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) and its subsidiary – the High Speed Rail Corporation – the railways minister had sent out letters to the chief ministers of Gujarat and Maharashtra in December last year, seeking cooperation to build the line. The JICA report has estimated a cost of Rs 988,050 million to build the corridor.