Special Correspondent

Invites Expression of Interest from private players

Hubs in non-metro stations planned

Rail Vikas Nigam

to float tender

NEW DELHI: Putting into action the assertions of Railway Minister Lalu Prasad to reach out to the farming community and provide them platform for sale of their products at the local level, the Railways has invited Expression of Interest from interested players to set up agriculture retail chain across the country.

According to the proposal, conceived by Mr. Lalu Prasad and outlined in parts of his Railway budget this year, the Railways would utilise the surplus land for development of facilities as part of agri retail chain at non-metro stations to cash on the retail revolution sweeping across the country. “The idea behind this retail agricultural chain concept is to provide remunerative price to the farmers for their produce that at times rots for want of proper storage facilities or transportation,” a senior official remarked.

The Railways will play a role of the facilitator only and it would limit itself to providing logistics at these locations. The hub would be created in non-metro stations facilitating transportation of agri products using the rail network or provide for their sale at the local level wherever possible, the official added.

The project is seen as another effort by the Railways to put into action the Public Private Participation (PPP) model announced by Mr. Lalu Prasad at the same time ruling out complete privatisation. The delay in putting in place this concept was that the Railways was trying out to work out a model that would take off without any hiccups. The idea was to settle out all possible issues and then get going with it in a big way. The Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) has been entrusted with the task of floating the tender for inviting expression of interest from corporate houses and cooperative institutions. The Railways is expecting that this move will generate interest among the private players and a large number of logistic operators and retail chain operators would respond positively. The Railways has a total 4.23 lakh hectares of surplus land out of which 42,846 hectares is vacant land.