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Private sector grip grows stronger

Lalu Prasad’s Railway Budget speech sent out obvious signals about the perceived tilt towards privatisation of the utility, reports Srinand Jha.

business Updated: Feb 27, 2008 04:22 IST
Srinand Jha

Lalu Prasad’s Railway Budget speech on Tuesday sent out obvious signals about the perceived tilt towards privatisation of the utility.

Investments worth Rs 2, 50,000 crore were proposed within the next five years and close to half of this amount — Rs 1, 00,000 crore — would be attracted through public- private partnership projects.

These will include schemes for providing world-class facilities at metro stations, setting up modern rolling stock production units and construction of multi-model logistics parks.

Next fiscal, investments worth Rs 15,000 crore are expected to come in from contracts for developing four railway stations into world-class stations. On this list are New Delhi, Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji terminus, Patna and Secundarabad stations. Global bids will be floated soon.

The partners in the public-private projects will be selected through competitive bidding for setting up of a locomotive and coach factory, the cost for which is Rs 4, 000 crore.

The Railways also expects investments worth Rs 2, 000 crore for for manufacture of container trains, container depots and multi-modal logistics parks.

Lalu Prasad anticipates that in 2008-9 the Rail Land Development Authority will raise Rs 4, 000 crore by making commercial use of surplus land of the Indian Railways.

In all, concessions committing an investment of about Rs 25,000 crore are likely to be awarded for various public-private projects.

The container depots to be constructed in future would also involve the private sector. Construction of 40 out of the total 48 depots will be in private hands.

The Indian Railways has also prepared a new wagon leasing policy, which will enable customers and container operators to take wagons on lease by depositing registration fee of Rs 5 crore.

It has also been proposed to lease out railways land at prescribed rates through open tendering for the construction of bulk and non-bulk goods terminals.