After decades of struggle, the Karnataka government and the Railways inched a step closer towards introducing a commuter railway system in Bengaluru after both the parties signed an MoU for the same on Monday.
Railways minister Suresh Prabhu said it was the duty of the government, at the Centre and the state, to fulfil the transportation need of the people. With this in mind, a decision has been taken to start suburban railway system for the city, he said. A special company would be set up for the project and it will be financed through an “innovative” way, Prabhu said.
“It is no longer possible for either the state government or the central government to find money for the budget from their normal revenue source to finance entire infrastructure needs…. so we have to find an innovative way,” he said, adding it would not come into the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act of the state government.
Pointing out that there were equity related concerns raised by the state government, Prabhu said they would be looked into. Chief minister Siddaramaiah, who expressed reservation over the Centre’s draft suburban rail policy’s financing pattern, said “the minister (Prabhu) has now spoken about adopting innovative ways of funding for which the state government will provide its fullest cooperation. We are also fine with involving of the private partners.”
Pointing out that the draft mentions financing pattern as 20 per cent by Central government and 80 per cent by the state government, he said it would be a burden on Karnataka. He proposed a 50:50 financing pattern, and requested that the Centre should also share the land cost.
At the function organised by the South Western Railway, Prabhu and Siddaramaiah unveiled the plaque for laying of foundation stone for new coaching terminal at Baiyyappanahalli, aimed at decongesting other terminals in the city. They also flagged off KSR Bengaluru/Yeshwanthpur-Shivamogga train and MEMU train between KSR Bengaluru and Ramanagara.
Promising that Bengaluru-Mysuru track doubling would be commissioned before March-end, Prabhu also sought the state government’s cooperation in quadrupling of the line between Bengaluru to Whitefield as it will help in easing the traffic congestion.
Prabhu also complimented Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister HN Ananth Kumar for taking up the suburban rail issue where the latter had demanded an alternative transport service to Bengaluru.
Bengalureans want trains to 10 key locations
A number of citizens of Bengaluru collected signatures and presented it to Railways minister Prabhu in support of the rail system. In the memorandum, the citizens said Bengaluru’s size has doubled every decade, with the current population at 1.2 crore, and that puts tremendous pressure on infrastructure. As a result, commuters are suffering daily from extreme congestion and extreme pollution.
Never ending traffic jams waste 600 million man hours every in traffic, as per BDA’s Revised Master Plan (RMP) 2031 report. We are suffering from poor health and asthma, our children are already paying the price and the future looks even worse, the citizens said.
“We mention this to you, Sir, because you actually can help address this public health menace and save our children. The demand for a suburban train system in Bengaluru is 3 decades old and unfortunately due to lack of strong political will, it never materialized. A full-fledged suburban train system can take out 50% of cars and mobikes off the streets and have a tremendous positive impact on us and our children. Last month, about 1600 of us, representing all sections of society rode the train from Bengaluru Cantonment to Whitefield, a distance that would take us 3 hours by road due the abominable traffic conditions in 30 minutes! We know that your special love for Mumbai has resulted in a generous sanction of thousands of crores for expanding Mumbai suburban rail. We request a place in your heart for Bengaluru and some space in the budget for our commuter rail. Our specific three demands are; connect the top 10 key economic hubs via suburban rail to service the large numbers of daily commuters, allocate budget for each of these so as to provision entirely in the next two years and work with the Karnataka State Government with clear time frames for commissioning these,” the memorandum said.
Credits Bangalore Mirror