No formal announcement by the Union Railways Minister as the election model code of conduct is in place
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday reportedly cleared and approved the much delayed 148-km-long suburban rail project for Bengaluru, sources said. However, no formal announcement was made as the election model code of conduct is in place.
Bypolls are scheduled to be held in two Assembly constituencies – Rajarajeshwarinagar in Bengaluru and Sira in Tumakuru – on November 3.
According to sources, the proposed existing four corridors have been retained, but the estimated cost for the project had changed. Karnataka Rail Infrastructure Development Enterprises (K-RIDE), the agency which is executing the project, will float the tender once a formal announcement is made, sources added.
While briefing the media after the Cabinet meeting, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said that they could not give any information on the issue as the model code of conduct was in place in the city. However, he announced that the Union cabinet on Wednesday had given its approval for the revised cost for the Kolkata East-West Metro Corridor project.
The Bengaluru suburban rail project involves building four corridors connecting different parts of the city: KSR Bengaluru-Devanahalli, Baiyappanahalli-Chikkabanavara, Kengeri-Cantonment-Whitefield, and Heelalige-Rajanakunte.
Citizens’ groups and activists have carried out a series of campaigns for years to keep up pressure on governments to clear the project, which been mentioned in multiple Union budgets, including in 2019-20 and 2020-21.
However, a token amount of only ₹1 crore was allocated, as per the ‘Pink Book’ brought out by the Railways on Work, Machinery and Rolling Stock Programme of Railways for 2020-21, much to the disappointment of citizens of the city.
In the Union Budget 2020-21, the Centre announced that it would provide 20% of equity and facilitate external assistance up to 60% of the project cost, which was estimated at ₹18,600 crore. The project had been cleared by the Extended Railway Board (ERB) in November 2019.
Transport expert Sanjeev Dyamannavar of the advocacy group Praja said that now the focus should be on execution of the project as everything for start of the project was in place.
“K-RIDE is executing the project, the DPR is ready and there will not be any major issue with land acquisition as a major portion of the land for the project is with the Railways. Now, both the State and Union governments should allocate funds so that the project is implemented soon,” he said.