BENGALURU: A crucial piece of land required for putting in place the suburban rail network is the nine-and-a-half acres of Binny Mills land near the end of Mysuru Road. With just one acre in this prime area pegged at Rs 80 crore and above, neither the State nor the Railways is willing to fund the Rs 750 crore-plus required to acquire this entire chunk of land. An effective suburban rail system requires this space to stable suburban trains here, say top railway officials.
Formalities are presently underway to put in place the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for a dedicated suburban rail network for the city. The Rs 17,000-crore project spread across 161 km in and around the city is expected to provide massive relief from traffic congestion when completed.
A top official told City Express that it was the responsibility of the State to acquire the land and hand it over to the Railways. “The SPV will initially have a corpus of Rs 1,745 crore. If nearly half of that amount goes just towards the land acquisition, it leaves a highly reduced sum for other vital works to be taken up. The suburban project is aimed at decongesting city traffic. Hence, the State needs to step up and pay the costs for acquiring the Binny Mill land,” he said.
Providing a comparison, another railway official added, “To just operationalise 3km of the Bangalore Metro Rail project, they have spent nearly Rs 300 crore per km. Since this piece of land is so important for the suburban project, the State needs to be ready to bear the cost.”A top State Government official said that the State would provide the land for all rail infrastructure if it belongs to it. “This is private land. If the Railways is ready to pay for it, we can acquire it for them,” he said. Another top official said, “We are willing to provide the Railways our land available in Kumbalgod. Talks are regularly being held on this issue.”
There was no point providing land at a far-off location, said another railway official. The State has land in Bidadi, Nelamangala or even Hejjala. which it is ready to offer. “A train needs to be run every three or four minutes for the suburban system to be effective. The KSR Railway Station is so choked right now that not a single train can be run there now. Unless we create more stabling lines there, it will be impossible to run trains due to the increase in the number of trains for suburban rail.”
If KSR Station is left out and one needs to reach Cantonment or Yesvantpur to board a suburban train, reaching these stations will again create congestion on city roads.