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CR plans cinema hall at Dombivli station, camping site at Palasdhari

Nov 14, 2023 07:36 AM IST

Central Railway in Mumbai plans to set up a prefabricated cinema hall and a camping site at two of its stations to increase non-fare revenue. The cinema hall will be located at Dombivli station and is expected to generate an annual income of INR 47.85 lakh ($74,000). The camping site will be set up at Palasdhari station and has an earning potential of INR 27.92 lakh ($43,000) per year. However, rail passengers have criticized the plans, stating that the railway authorities should focus on improving train punctuality and passenger amenities.

Mumbai: To milk rail assets and increase non-fare revenue, the commercial department of Central Railway (CR) has plans to set up a prefabricated cinema hall at Dombivli station as well as a camping site at Palasdhari (a place between Karjat and Khopoli stations). Rail passengers, however, said that CR should first focus on ensuring that trains run on time.

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CR authorities have called for tenders, and will keep them operational for a period of 10 years. “We are hoping to get an interested party to bid by the end of this month,” said a CR official, clarifying that the cinema hall will not be large but a prefabricated one that can be installed in a corner of the station’s premises. The railways expect to earn 47.85 lakh yearly from this.

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Railway passengers said the focus of CR authorities was swerving from their primary duties. “This is a perfect case of misplaced priorities,” said Nandkumar Deshmukh, president of the Federation of Suburban Railway Passengers Association. “Creating better passenger amenities, wider walking spaces at railway stations and easing train commutes should take precedence. A cinema hall in a station like Dombivli will only result in more of a crush.” The busy station is frequented by three lakh to five lakh commuters every day.

The CR authorities are also planning to convert the space next to Palasdhari Dam into a picnic spot. Palasdhari, the station after Karjat, is a popular tourist destination and a railway junction on the Karjat-Khopoli route. The dam there, which is a couple of kilometres away from the station, belongs to CR.

“To generate non-fare revenue from tourist activities, we have floated a tender for setting up and operating nature camping activities at Palasdhari dam for a period of five years,” confirmed Shivraj Manaspure, Chief PRO, Central Railway. “This tender will be opened on November 30. We will be allotting a land area of 10006.06 square metres for this.”

Sources said that the licensee would be allowed to develop the land parcel at Palasdhari Dam as a tourist camping site. The site will have tents, a garden area, a playing area, a cafeteria, toilets, indoor and outdoor sports, water sports under the supervision of a lifeguard, fish farming and activities in the upstream of the dam such as a boat club and water sports. The project has an earning potential of 27.92 lakh for the railways.

Railway passengers residing in the northern part of MMR on the Central Railway route have raised questions on the logic of setting up a camping site. “There is no doubt that Palasdhari is a tourist attraction,” said Praful Shewale of the Kalyan-Kasara Railway Passenger Association. “But what are the CR authorities doing about alleviating the difficulties of commuters travelling on the Kalyan-Karjat/Kasara routes which is a daily struggle?”

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