Suburban rail gets ₹500 crore; Namma Metro to be opened for private investment

The State government’s allocation of ₹500 crore for Bengaluru’s suburban rail in the 2020-21 Budget has given a much-needed shot in the arm for the public transport project that has been languishing for years.

In past Budgets — both State and Union — the project only found a mention with meagre allocations. Both governments have been under pressure from various quarters to allocate funds and start implementing it.

Sanjeev Dyamannavar, an advocate for a robust suburban rail network, said: “The government’s allocation is welcome. Now, the onus is on the Centre to give final clearance so that it gets implemented.”

As per the Union Budget, to implement the 148-km suburban rail network with 57 stations, both the Centre and State had agreed to provide 20% equity each. The Centre will facilitate external assistance up to 60% of the project cost, which is estimated at ₹18,600 crore. The project is now pending before the Centre for final approval.

Karnataka Rail Infrastructure Development Enterprises (K-RIDE) had announced that out of the four corridors rail network from KSR Bengaluru to Devenhalli will be taken up first for implementation. The line will benefit people travelling to Kempegowda International Airport, and requires an initial investment of Rs 1000 crore.

Namma Metro

In a major move, the State government has opened the door for private-public partnership for Namma Metro. Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa in his Budget said that Hebbal to J.P. Nagar (ORR) and Magadi Road ‘Metrolite’ projects will be taken up under the PPP model. The total length of the network will be 44 km. The government is likely to implement the project under phase III of Namma Metro.

BMRCL managing director Ajay Seth said keeping in mind Bengaluru’s growth and also Namma Metro’s expansion, there is a need to look at different options like PPPs. “The city requires a much larger network of Namma Metro. By 2024, we will have a network of 172 km of metro but it will not be enough. We need a lot more for a growing city,” he said.

He pointed out that other cities such as Hyderabad, Nagpur and Pune have exercised these options. “Every project need not be funded out of budget allocation alone as the investment required is huge. The PPP model will be a feasible option,”Mr. Seth added.

Mr. Yediyurappa also announced that the construction of the 56-km long Outer Ring Road to Kempegowda International Airport via K.R. Puram and Hebbal will commence in 2020-21. Commercial operation of the extended metro line on Mysuru Road and Kanakapura Road wuold start this year.

BMTC gets funding for buses

The State Budget has made provisions for loan subsidy for Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) to purchase 1,500 diesel buses, which is estimated to cost ₹600 crore. The government will provide ₹100 crore every year for a period of seven years in the form of loan subsidy.

Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa also announced that BMTC will operate 500 electric buses which is likely to be on a lease basis similar to the model adopted by the Centre’s FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid & Electric Vehicles in India) initiative. A total of ₹100 crore will be provided for this.

“BMTC seems to be getting financial support for 1,500 regular buses and 500 electric buses. However, it had earlier mentioned that 1,300 old buses have to be phased out, which means that there will be net increase of probably 700 new buses which is welcome but insufficient,” said Vinay Sreenivasa of Bus Prayanikara Vedike.

He also demanded the State government extend the free bus pass facility announced for 1 lakh garment workers to others who afford higher fares. “Reducing the fares across the board would have been far more effective and beneficial for a wider population who faces financial hardships because of high bus fares. BMTC should have been provided additional grants to implement a substantial fare reduction to benefit the city better,” Mr Sreenivasa said in a press release.

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Oct 22, 2021 10:00:04 AM |

Next Story