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Posted on Dec 07, 09:33PM | IBNS
The Indian Railways has a pivotal role to help India register an economic growth rate of over nine per cent, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said on Friday.
"We must think out of the box to achieve the ambitious nine per cent growth target and Indian Railways can play a very important role in this behalf by contributing about two percentage points of country's economic growth," said Bansal while inaugurating an international conference titled 'Rail@2020: Public-Private Partnership' organised by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) here.
"We need dedicated freight corridors to achieve this target and in this behalf the government has planned two primary corridors-eastern and western corridor: one from Ludhiana to Kolkata and the other from Delhi to Mumbai."
"When these corridors will become operational, the goods trains can move without any interruption whatsoever," said Bansal.
The Union Railway Ministry has sought private sector participation for re-development of five railway stations one each in Bhopal, Chandigarh and Pune and two in the capital city of Delhi, said the minister.
"We are working on an ambitious and significant project of re-developing the railway stations and have about five railway stations to begin with for which we would immediately invite the private sector participation," he said.
Talking about the use of land owned by Indian Railways, Bansal said: "The land on the sides of tracks has to be retained for possible expansions, building more parallel rail tracks and the land adjacent to railway stations has to be used to re-develop the entire 7,000 stations gradually."
On the issue of removal of slums on the sideways of railway tracks, Bansal said that Ministry of Railways can work together with the Ministry of Urban Housing and Poverty Alleviation. "We can work out a framework by which railways can leave some land so that flats can be built for slum dwellers thereby improving their living standards."
"There is a scope for the private sector to infuse about Rs 1 lakh crore during next five years to improve the rail network across India and for this we have different projects and about 105 models including the first mile and last mile connectivity," said the minister while releasing an ASSOCHAM-Yes Bank study titled 'Re-imagining Railways'.
"The private sector can also contribute in making engines, running high-speed trains, dedicated freight corridor and others and for which there will be different railway lines for transportation," said Bansal.
"Containerisation is another sector which needs to be taken forward with private sector participation as it can help revolutionise transportation in India."
Further talking about the private sector participation, Bansal said, "Core functions would remain with railways and we are just inviting private sector to expand rail network and going by the size of India there is tremendous scope for expansion."
"We are working on a PPP model to connect main railway lines with ports, mines and clusters of industries and the PPP can prove to be most attractive and fruitful in railways than in any other sector," said the minister.
"Besides, we are also working out on increasing the capacity of passenger trains on a PPP basis as this growth model can result in a win-win situation for industry, government and the public at large."