The long-pending demand for a suburban train system in Bengaluru will take baby steps with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the State Government and the Ministry of Railways on Monday.
Railways Minister, Suresh Prabhu, who is launching a slew of railway-related projects in the city during his visit, is expected to release the MoU which will set up a Special Purpose Vehicle. “This will be under the State Urban Development Department, which can then decide projects to be undertaken to set up a suburban rail system,” said Sanjiv Agarwal, Divisional Railway Manager, Bangalore Division of the South Western Railway here on Saturday.
Mr. Prabhu is also scheduled to signal the start of the Rs. 130 crore project for the expansion of the Baiyappanahalli Railway Station, which would make it the third terminal in the city. With the two current terminals at KSR Railway Station (Bengaluru City) and Yeshvanthpur reaching saturation point, the new coaching terminal would help in decongesting the railway infrastructure.
Meanwhile, the Bangalore Division said proposals had been sent to the Centre for projects that would increase the line capacity of lines across the city. These include, a Rs. 480 crore project to double the line between Banaswadi to Hosur; Rs. 200-crore line doubling between Lottegollahalli to Baiyappanahalli; reviving the nearly-decade-old proposal to add an additional line between KSR Railway Station and the IT hub of Whitefield.
Land acquisition remains an issue in state
While the state is seeing railway projects worth Rs. 28,000 crore under process, land acquisition remains a major concern, said Ashok Gupta, Chief Administration Officer (Construction).
Of the 21,000 acres of land to be acquired by the state government for various railway works — primarily commissioning of new lines — just around 20 per cent of the land has so far been acquired. Nearly 771 km of new lines have been stalled, including key stretches of the Whitefield to Kolar new line, 200-km from Tumakuru to Chitradurga; and Chikmagalur to Saklespur.
“For the past two years, land acquisition had stopped because of Rules of the new land acquisition act was yet to be notified. It was done only last year, and we expect optimistically that the first acquisitions will start in 1.5 years time. We have had discussions with the state government to bring out guidelines to expedite processes such as Social Impact Assessment,” he said.