Photo: Bloomberg
Photo: Bloomberg

Infra developers to get railway land, airspace on 99-year lease

Several big real estate firms have been insisting on long leases for redevelopment

New Delhi: The Union cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday approved granting long leases of up to 99 years for land and airspace in and around railway stations to infrastructure developers in lieu of station redevelopment.

Several big real estate firms such as Tata Realty, Shapoorji Pallonji, Reliance Infrastructure, Larsen and Toubro, and Essel Infraprojects have been insisting on long leases for undertaking station redevelopment.

Station redevelopment is one of the most ambitious projects of the Modi government, under which 400 A- and A1-class stations are planned to be revamped by monetizing 2,700 acres of prime railway land. However, the project has been facing problems because of policy flip-flops, and strict terms and conditions.

The cabinet on Wednesday approved easing these terms, which include multiple subleasing and simplified bid procedures. The plan includes leasing out the airspace above tracks to enable developers to build integrated hotels, office complexes and malls.

The setting up of world-class railway stations was proposed in 2009-10 by then railway minister Mamata Banerjee. Initial studies were carried out in 2010, but it was only in 2015 that the project was revived by former railway minister Suresh Prabhu.

Indian Railways plan to develop the stations as world-class transit hubs, with a central concourse equipped with amenities for passengers. The stations will be powered by solar energy, have modern amenities such as elevators and escalators along with commercial spaces such as office complexes and malls. The cabinet also approved Indian Railway Stations Development Corp. Ltd (IRSDC) as the nodal and main project development agency.

According to the cabinet decision, IRSDC will prepare the overall strategic plan and business plans for individual or a group of stations ensuring cost neutrality of the programme. Once the business plans are approved by the railway ministry, IRSDC or other project development agencies will take up the work of station redevelopment.

Habibganj station in Bhopal, which is being monitored by IRSDC, is already under redevelopment. The project was backed by Bhopal-based Bansal Group, which got the project on land lease of 45 years.

The cabinet also approved Metro rail lines for Bhopal and Indore in Madhya Pradesh. The cost of the Indore Metro would be around 7,500 crore, while for Bhopal it would be 6,941 crore. The projects will be undertaken by the special purpose vehicle Madhya Pradesh Metro Rail Corp. Ltd.

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