Indian Railways turns to DDA to get Anand Vihar, Bijwasan stations up sans glitches
The Indian Railways has moved a Cabinet note proposing that the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) transfer its land back on a freehold basis so that it can redevelop the Anand Vihar and Bijwasan stations without any glitches, a senior official said today. 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. Lease lengths vary and most common are 45 and 99 years. "It has been proposed that DDA or other union territory shall transfer any central government land to the Railways on a freehold basis, with a minimum conversion charge as payment. The Railways will be free to use the land for both commercial and residential purposes. This will be provided without any change in land use patterns," the official said, adding that this would help quicken the process of development.
The Indian Railway Station Redevelopment Corporation Managing Director and CEO S K Lohia confirmed the development and said currently land is given on lease to Indian Railways and thus it cannot be monetised. "So, the change from leasehold to freehold was imperative for station redevelopment." Not only this, the railways in its note has also proposed to provide incentives to states which relax their construction norms for its ambitious Rs 1-lakh crore station redevelopment project, a senior official said. The proposal, sent to the Cabinet earlier this week, also suggested an increase in the lease period from the present 45 years to 99 years for such projects to facilitate private players and encourage them to invest in the schemes.
"The states which give Railways extra FSI (Floor Space Index) would be given incentives in the form of sanctioning of additional projects in these states, shares in revenues or shares in any other income accrued out of such policy," the official said.
To minimise problems with land acquisition, the Indian Railways also suggested that transfer of land to the sector be on a freehold basis. The national transporter will also no longer seek the approval of local bodies for building purposes but merely take their consent, as is prescribed in Clause 1 1 of the Railway Act.
The ministry has also proposed an increase in the lease period from 45 years to not more than 99 years for station redevelopment projects to ensure the maximum commercial utilisation, he said. The redevelopment of 600 Indian Railways stations was mentioned by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget speech. In the first phase, the Indian Railway Station Development Corporation (IRSDC), which is the implementing agency, has already earmarked 90 such stations.
The redevelopment project is estimated to cost over Rs 1 lakh crore for 600 stations. The ministry has said that these changes proposed by them will ensure that additional revenues are generated from the projects and that the cost can be met from the revenues generated from the commercial development of extra Indian Railways land.