Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today said a joint venture company in partnership with the Karnataka government will be set up in three months to take up railway projects.
“We will start a joint venture company with Karnataka government in which the state will acquire some equity, we will take some equity, and will also leverage the equity by pooling some extra budgetary resources, and these resources will not come into the fiscal responsibility and budget management Act of Karnataka,” Prabhu said.
He said the idea is for the state government to collaborate with the Railways to create fast and accelerated infrastructure for the state.
“I can declare today, within next three months, we will operationalise this company so that the company can start working. Chief Minister has invited me for a meeting on this, we will take the next step forward to ensure the company is operationalised and take up infrastructure projects,” he added.
In February, the Union government had cleared a proposal allowing the Railways to form JV companies with state governments with equity participation to help identify areas that require new railway lines, acquire land for projects and help pool funds as well as jointly monitor these projects.
Prabhu was speaking after renaming Bengaluru city railway station as Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna station.
The station is named after Karnataka’s prominent freedom fighter Sangolli Rayanna (1798-1831).
Rayanna was the head of the army in the princely state of Kittur ruled by Rani Chennamma and fought against the British.
Prabhu also laid the foundation stone for Yelahanka-Penukonda (120km), Arsikere-Tumakuru (96 km), Hubballi-Chikjajur (190 km) doubling projects, and road overbridge at Koppal.
The road overbridge at Davangere was also commissioned today during the event that was attended by Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, Union ministers Venkaiah Naidu and Ananth Kumar, among others.
Prabhu promised that doubling of Mysuru-Bengaluru line will be completed in six months and Bengaluru-Hassan new line project of 165 km will be done before the end of 2016.
The ministry is exploring the possibility of having “semi high speed” railway between Bengaluru-Mysuru and Hubballi-Bengaluru.
“We must increase the average speed of the railways. we are working on it,” he added.
Calling the Railways as “strategic and national asset”, Prabhu said “we cannot allow it to languish”.
Stating that investment into the Railways in the last two years has more than doubled compared with previous years, he said we have invested almost over Rs 7,000 crore in Karnataka in the last three years, which is an all-time high.
“In addition to this, when we make the joint venture company, we will be able to use extra resources,” he added.
Pointing to various initiatives taken by the ministry including high-speed train project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, Prabhu said that in the last nine months, the contracts that have been issued were more than what were issued in the last six years.
He also noted that attempts have been made to modernise the Railways with the adoption of technology to fast-track projects and improve speed of implementation.
“We are already putting up more than 7 km per day, and our idea is to increase it to 19 km a day,” he added.
The railway minister also reiterated his ministry’s support to implement suburban railway project for Bengaluru city in the “shortest possible time”.