With the Karnataka Government ready to share cost with the Centre, several projects allocated to the State in the current Railway Budget are expected to get a fresh lease of life.

Two projects, Bangalore-Chamrajanagar-Satyamangalam and Kadur-Chikmagalur-Sakleshpur, which were frozen earlier might now see the light of the day.

The Railway Minister P.K. Bansal said the project was stalled for want of funds and now it will be taken up this year as the Karnataka Government has come forward to provide land free of cost and share the cost of the project.

The concept of cost-sharing was initiated by S M Krishna when he was the state Chief Minister. The Government headed by him came forward to share the cost of the project for the Bangalore-Mysore railway line. Subsequently, the support was extended by the successive chief ministers.

The trade and business community have welcomed the new line projects of Chickmagalur-Sakleshpur and Bangalore- Satyamangalam through joint initiative between the Railways and the State Government.

Manish Agarwal, Executive Director – Capital Projects & Infrastructure PwC India, said, “The ability to get projects up the priority list where the State is willing to participate can be game-changer. Clearly, the readiness with respect to PPPs is still low, and it is better that the purpose and role of PPPs is better thought through before setting high expectations.”

“We welcome the new line projects, which were pending for want of resources has finally seen the light of the day as the State Government has agreed to give land free of cost and bear 50 per cent of the construction cost,” said H.V. Harish Partner – India Leadership Team Grant Thornton India and Senior Vice-President BCIC.

However, Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar said the Railway Minister has failed to sanction new rail routes and trains to Karnataka. Karnataka is the only State which is willing to provide land and 50 per cent of the cost of new railway projects. In spite of this, it is regrettable that the demands of the state have been sidelined.

Shettar said “Out of the seven new railway projects requested by us, only Gadag-Wadi, Srinivaspur-Madanpalli, Chikkaballapur-Puttaparti lines have been approved.” The remaining proposals, i.e., Gadag-Haveri, Kadri-Puttaparti, Dharwad-Belgaum and K.R.Nagar-Kushalanagar have not been considered. Our request to undertake Bijapur-Shahabad, Talaguppa-Honnavar, Hubli-Ankola projects on PPP basis has also been not considered.

However, the working class and chambers of commerce were disappointed for there was no mention of commuter rail system for Bangalore and are disappointed on the delay in announcing the new coach factory in Kolar which is being kept in limbo for quite some time.

anil.u@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on February 26, 2013)
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