Sanjeev Kumar Lohia
The Indian Railway Station Redevelopment Corporation (IRSDC) plans to transform at least eight major railway stations in Mumbai into world-class stations. In an interview with The Indian Express, IRSDC Managing Director and CEO Sanjeev Kumar Lohia speaks about the challenges of the redevelopment plan and how it will shape the city for the better.
How many stations are you looking at redeveloping across India? How many of these are in Mumbai?
Presently, there are about 110 stations across India on which detailed project report is being prepared. There are 60 stations on which IRSDC is preparing the project report while the Railway Land Redevelopment Authority is working on another 50 stations. In Mumbai, we are working on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus for which we will be issuing Request for Qualification once it is approved by the public-private partnership appraisal committee. Our plans are progressing at a good pace at Thakurli. Apart from it, we are working on Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, Bandra Terminus, Kalyan, Dadar, Andheri and Borivali. Some stations are being worked on by RLDA such as Mumbai Central. There are about 112 stations in Mumbai Metropolitan Region but all may not require redevelopment or be amenable for redevelopment with land constraints, which is needed for monetisation and funding the redevelopment work.
What does redevelopment of a station mean and how will it resolve the challenges commuters face on station premises?
Redevelopment of stations entails complete transformation with well-planned entry and exit points, improved road accessibility and segregated passenger movement for arrival and departure on lines of airports. The stations will be transformed into a seamlessly connected hub with different modes and will be friendly for physically challenged people with lifts, escalators and travellators, proper pick-up and drop points. Acoustics and audibility of announcements will be improved. There will be adequate waiting areas and no passenger will have to sleep on platforms.
These waiting areas will be built at a concourse above the platforms, which will have retail outlets and seating place so that passengers will come to platforms only five-10 minutes prior to their journey. The stations will become safer as there will be controlled access unlike the present scenario, where stations by default are porous. They will be completely equipped with CCTV cameras, which will ensure a complete analysis in case of an incident.
What is the model for funding the redevelopment work?
It has now been decided that the stations will be bid out on PPP model with funding through land monetisation along with user charges as a source for funding the entire redevelopment of the stations. The user charges will be a nominal fixed amount for different class of travel with price indexation formula predefined in the concession agreement but it will contribute significantly to the project cost. It will give the developers reasonable degree of surety of revenue as footfall at railway stations is assured. Implementing the user charge has been agreed by a group of secretaries and now a notification will be issued soon by the Ministry of Railways. The user charge will be predefined and applied once the station is redeveloped. It will be a part of the ticket price and would be applicable only if one is boarding/de-boarding at the redeveloped station.
The redevelopment plan at CSMT was floated back in 2012 and was stuck for all these years. What is the timeline that you are looking at for completing these projects?
The plan at CSMT was stuck as there was not enough land available, which would be commercially exploited to fund the redevelopment project. There were some railway projects planned at PD’ Mello Road and then railway policy did not allow commercially exploiting land elsewhere to fund projects at a particular station. But that has been revised and now we are looking at a basket plan, where independent land parcel can also be taken up to raise money for funding the project. Now, what we are planning for CSMT is, we are exploring to combine commercial exploitation at Byculla/Wadi Bunder/Haji Bunder/Wadala and CSMT to fund the CSMT redevelopment project. We are looking at developing these stations in four years with the initial tendering and project development taking a year and half and another three to four years for completing the project.
Will the projects open up railway land for residential complexes at CSMT and other stations as part of commercial exploitation of land?
When we are saying mixed use, a developer will be allowed to have residential development along with commercial development. Residential development can be of various types such as hotels, hostels, service apartments and even houses, which can be leased out by private players. In Mumbai, you can have a lease hold property and so the houses will be on lease, where one can own the house for a certain period and then the lease will be transferred back to the developer and then the railways. No land is being sold, the entire project is on lease-only model.