Millennium Post

Govt lets railways develop land, air space commercially at stations

New Delhi: The Cabinet on Wednesday has cleared the way for the railways to commercially develop land and air space in and around stations by approving its station redevelopment plans, according to a statement.

It has also provided for a longer lease tenure of up to 99 years from the previous 45 years.

"The Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation (IRSDC) will be the nodal agency for the development of stations which will leverage commercial development of land and air space in and around the stations.

"This programme will help provide state-of-the-art amenities for passengers, generate additional revenues and will be overall at least cost neutral to the railways over a basket of stations," a statement said.

IRSDC will prepare the overall strategic plan and business plans for individual or a group of stations ensuring cost neutrality of this programme.

Upon approval of business plans by the Railway Ministry, IRSDC or other project development agencies will take up the work of station redevelopment.

The railways then will plan the development of the land in consultation with authorities concerned to transfer land to it on free hold basis.

A freehold estate in land (as opposed to a leasehold) is where the owner of the land has no time limit to his period of ownership.

"This would enable railways to accelerate the redevelopment of major stations across the country on an overall cost neutral basis. These redevelopment efforts will lead to creation of state-of-the-art smart stations that will function as mini smart cities," it said.

While a Cabinet approval was obtained on June 24, 2015 to redevelop 'A1' and 'A' category stations (with higher earnings and footfalls) by zonal railways for a lease period of 45 years, it failed to take off.

During various interactions with developers, investors and other stakeholders, various issues including multiple sub-leasing, simplified bid procedures, etc. were repeatedly raised.

The railways then proposed an improvised and simpler programme design including these issues and under a specialised executing agency (IRSDC). The station redevelopment project is estimated to cost over Rs 1 lakh crore for 600 stations.

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