An Advisors’ Group has been set up in the Railway Board to draw up a clear-cut roadmap for public private partnership projects to be taken up during the 11th Plan period.
Announcing this on Monday, Railway Minister Lalu Yadav said he wanted a close coordination with the private sector for which the expert group, comprising representatives of apex chambers of commerce and retired members of the Railway Board, would be consulted to take the PPP projects forward. He was speaking at a conference organised jointly by the FICCI and Railways Ministry.
While lauding the Railways for the turnaround in its performance, FICCI
President Saroj Kumar Poddar called for allowing the private sector to bring in design rail wagons on an exclusive basis, subject to clearance of the design by the Railways authorities.
Once approved, the private sector would be willing to invest in the freight wagons, provided the Railways assured sufficient orders over a five-year period to allow for covering costs plus reasonable returns on investment, he stated.
Mr Poddar also sought a change in the tendering system as it favoured only the lowest cost bidder and was delay-prone, according to a FICCI press release.
At the conference on public private partnership in Indian Railways, the Minister listed the areas where PPP could be carried out.
These include the upgradation and creation of world-class railway stations, cold chain and warehousing facilities for farm produce at 7,000 railway stations, wagon development, rail connectivity with ports and the proposed Dedicated Freight Corridor project.
Railway Board Chairman JP Batra revealed that the Railways was looking for an investment of over Rs 3 lakh crore by 2015 in a number of its activities.To be successful, PPPs would require a transparent policy framework that sets out the rights and duties of the concerned parties, he said.
"We have already set up a dedicted PPP cell in the Ministry to work in this area," Batra pointed out.