Unions to protest against South station renovation project

The Ernakulam South station. It is proposed to hand over the station to a private company for redeveloping it.   | Photo Credit: H. VIBHU

A combine of trade unions cutting across political differences will join hands here on Wednesday to protest against what they have termed as “efforts by the Railways to sell the Ernakulam South railway station and the 48 acres on which the facilities are located.”

A statement issued here said that trade unions and mass and class groups would join the protest at 4 p.m. on the railway station premises. Hibi Eden, MP, will inaugurate the protest meeting, while CPI(M) leader K. Chandran Pillai will preside over it.

The South railway station and the land on which it is located have been proposed to be handed over to private entrepreneurs as part of efforts by the Railway Land Development Authority (RLDA) to renovate the station.

The first phase of the project comprises a ₹229-crore initiative that will see both the eastern and western sides of the station being developed over a period of three years.

The 48 acres on which the present railway station facilities are located will be handed over to a private company, which will take up the development of the station, which includes construction of commercial complexes. The company will be allowed to keep the land and facilities for 60 years.

However, the unions said a project for the expansion of the station had been prepared by railway engineers themselves. While the Railways have the capability to develop the station, there is no need for the authorities to approach private parties, they maintained.

The Railways, the unions said, should not surrender prime land in the middle of the city to private companies.

Meanwhile, the RLDA has invited bids for the redevelopment of the Ernakulam Junction railway station (South) on a design, build, finance, operate and transfer basis.

The RLDA is a statutory authority under the Ministry of Railways with a mandate for development / redevelopment of stations and commercial development of vacant land parcels near them.

The railway authorities, when contacted, refused to comment on the protest by the unions and the project.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2021 7:56:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/unions-to-protest-against-south-station-renovation-project/article33975195.ece

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