In an interesting move, Indian Railways has tied up with the Ministry of Urban Development to ensure that the ambitious smart cities of India also have ‘smart railway stations’. Ùnder a MoU signed between the two ministries – Railways and Urban Development – railway stations and surrounding areas will be redeveloped with an aim to provide easy access to stations, better passenger amenities and also enable optimal utilisation of land at railway stations. This means that the station and an adjoining area of around 300 to 800 acres in each smart city and AMRUT city will be redeveloped! We take a look at 5 key facts about the project:
1) The railway station and an adjoining area in smart cities will be redeveloped on the lines of ‘Area Based Development’ that has been provided in the Smart City Mission Guidelines. According to the ministries, the proposed redevelopment will involve easy access to stations, improved passenger amenities, integrated public transport hub, waiting halls and other amenities for passengers, development of residential and commercial spaces, landscaping etc.
2) The joint initiative of the Ministries of Urban Development and Railways has now widened the smart city development to one more area in each of the mission cities. Now, each city is required to select one area under their respective plans in the first phase.
3) According to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, many countries such as France, Japan, Germany, UK, South Korea and Belgium have expressed interest in redevelopment projects. Next week, a roundtable of domestic and overseas bankers will be organized to discuss financing of these redevelopment projects. Also, the redevelopment work at Habibganj railway station has already been awarded. Plans for Gandhinagar, Surat, Anand Vihar (Delhi) and Bijwasan are in advanced stages.
4) The MoU that has been signed today proposes two options for joint ventures that will help ensure the speedy redevelopment of railway station centred areas. The first option suggests an MoU between the Railways and the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) formed for execution of Smart City Plans, with an equal share in equity. In the second model, National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) can be roped in with equal share among the three. NBCC can design, develop and execute the redevelopment plans on self-financing basis, the MoU says.
Urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu has suggested that to start with 10 cities – Varanasi, Jaipur, Kota, Sarai Rohilla (Delhi), Thane, Margao(Goa), Bhubaneswwar, Lucknow, Tirupati and Puducherry – can be taken up for redevelopment with the involvement of NBCC.
5) The Ministry of Railways will be responsible for forming the Joint Ventures and the Ministry of Urban Development will work with the states and urban-local bodies to integrate railway station redevelopment as part of smart city development plans.