After a long wait, the Rail Infrastructure Development Company (Karnataka) Ltd. (K-RIDE) commenced preliminary groundwork for the Bengaluru Suburban Rail Project. The agency, a joint venture of the Railway Ministry and the State government, had awarded a work order to Larsen & Toubro to build Mallige Line (Corridor-2) from Baiyappanahalli to Chikkabanavara. Now, the contractor started preliminary works by barricading the work sites near Hebbal Railway Station.
Sources in K-RIDE said that the contractor has been on the job mobilizing resources and carrying preliminary works for a week now. “Full-fledged work is likely to start within a week. In addition to Hebbal, the construction work will also start in other locations of the corridor. A majority of the land required for the project is already available with us, barring a few private properties for which the acquisition process is on. Meanwhile, appraisal teams of international financial agencies that were approached by K-RIDE seeking loans for the project are likely to visit Bengaluru in the coming days,” said a source. The K-RIDE is raising a loan of 800 million euros for the suburban rail project.
In the first phase of the project, K-RIDE is building a Baiyappanahalli to Chikkabanavara corridor, which has 9.72 km elevated and 18.55 km line at grade. The corridor will have 14 stations (a separate tender will be floated for construction of the stations). K-RIDE had set a 24-month deadline for the contractor to complete the works.
The suburban rail network for Bengaluru is a pending demand of several decades. On June 20, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation for the project and assured Bengalureans that it would become a reality in 40 months. After the PM laid the foundation, citizen groups and rail activists have been demanding that K-RIDE start the construction activities.
Rajkumar Dugar, founder and convenor of Citizens for Citizens said, “We are happy that finally groundwork will begin. We urge K-RIDE and the State Government to implement the project immediately to deliver on the promises made by the PM to Bengalureans. We have been demanding that the KSR Bengaluru to Devanahalli line linking Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) be implemented on a priority basis. The State government and K-RIDE should take all measures to build the line.”
Rail activist Sanjeev Daymannavar said, “It is a good sign that K-RIDE has begun work on the ground. People have been demanding the suburban rail network for over two decades. For time bound implementation of the project, the State government should direct all the civic agencies to have better coordination to facilitate construction works. Meanwhile, tenders should be floated for the rest of the corridors.”
The suburban rail network has a length of 148 km and stations will come up at 57 points.