RLDA to assess value of 100-acre railway land

The report on the proposed integrated coaching terminal at Ponnurunni, prepared by a private agency, moots a six-track terminal and two commercial towers.

The report on the proposed integrated coaching terminal at Ponnurunni, prepared by a private agency, moots a six-track terminal and two commercial towers.   | Photo Credit: H_Vibhu

Preliminary report on building integrated coaching terminal at Ponnurunni ready

The proposal to speed up train movement across Kerala by hewing out an integrated coaching terminal in approximately 100 acres of railway-owned land on the Ponurunni-Kathrikadavu stretch through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode has got a shot in the arm, with Railway Minister Piyush Goel directing the Railway Land Development Authority (RLDA) to assess the value of the said land.

This followed Ernakulam MP Hibi Eden submitting a preliminary project report on the proposal, which was readied by a private firm, to Mr. Goel.

Mr. Eden said the report mooted a six-track terminal and two commercial towers, in the first phase. The investor will fund the necessary infrastructure if land is handed over for an approximately 99-year lease since business entities are finding it tough to get adequate land in Kochi city. On its part, the Railways must do a technical feasibility study, so that the land can be optimally utilised to speed up train movement in the region, which will in turn have a fallout across the State, he said.

Mr. Eden suggested widening of a small stretch of road that connects the property with Thammanam-Pullepady Road and construction of a bridge from Stadium Link Road to enable road connectivity to the proposed terminal. Some stakeholders are trying to curtail the project to one with just a couple of tracks which will not be futuristic, he added.

Responding to the proposal, a railway official said it would be ideal if the Railways and private stakeholder(s) jointly developed the land as a coaching terminal-cum-commercial space. “It is for this that the RLDA has been directed to assess the value of the land whose custodian is the Thiruvananthapuram Division. The project will be a boon to the city since the land is less than 2 km away from both Vyttila and Ernakulam Junction railway station,” he added.

Innovative project

The Railways need approximately 14 metres of vertical space over tracks for the mandatory 10-metre vertical clearance for train movement and another four metres for constructing foot overbridges and the like. The space above and on the sides can be used for commercial ventures like IT parks, malls, hospitals, or a combination of these. It may be tough to get investors for a 30-year lease as more time might be needed to get financial returns from the capital-intensive project. Any delay will result in more of the prime land, whose extent has already lessened, falling further into the hands of encroachers and unscrupulous people, the official said.

“The project can move forward if there is a political decision at the earliest. The Railways’ proposal to ready world-class stations is in sync with the PPP proposal,” he added.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 9:50:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/rlda-to-assess-value-of-100-acre-railway-land/article30423011.ece

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