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State's 9 stations strike it lucky

Swiss Challenge route for 400 to chug towards revamp

Ranchi railway station is one of the 400 across the country that have been chosen for the Centre's modernisation project

Ranchi, July 19: Nine railway stations from Jharkhand are a part of the Centre's list of 400 chosen for modernisation into world-class infrastructure through private-public partnership (PPP) mode, getting the seal of Union cabinet's approval on July 16.

Union railway minister Suresh Prabhu has promised a web-based bidding process and evaluation by independent experts to ensure transparency in this ambitious exercise, which is likely to see mega investments from private partners.

Of the 400 A or A-1 category stations across India with focus on metros, major cities, pilgrimage centres and tourist destinations, Jharkhand's nine are Ranchi, Hatia and Bokaro of South Eastern Railway, Daltonganj, Gomoh, Koderma and Parasnath of East Central Railway, and Jasidih and Madhupur of Eastern Railway.

Handing the list to The Telegraph, Sanjoy Ghosh, the chief public relations officer of the Calcutta-headquartered South Eastern Railway (SER), said all the nine were A category railway stations.

An official from SER, Calcutta, said though the final modalities of revamp were yet to be known, the stations would be developed on the Swiss Challenge approach, which is by inviting open bids from interesting parties.

"For instance, a real estate developer may give a detailed proposal of redevelopment of a railway station, which would be uploaded on the official website. If someone comes up with a better proposal, that new proposal would be accepted, and this process would go on, till a special railway committee selects the best proposal," the SER official said.

"Developers will leverage real estate development of the land and air space in and around the stations," he added.

Niraj Kumar, senior divisional commercial manager of Ranchi division under SER, also maintained they were yet to formally get modalities of the project.

"Ranchi and Hatia railway stations are under our division. We are looking forward to out-of-the-box ideas from interested parties for redevelopment of these railway stations," he said.

Prabhu, during his visit to Ranchi in June, had also maintained that they planned to convert Ranchi station into a world-class facility.

Reminded of the minister's promise, senior divisional commercial manager Kumar said: "Making Ranchi station world class will take time but a dedicated team has already started working in this regard."

Elaborating on the proposal, he said: "A world-class station is one that has proper transport linkages with other stations, high-end passenger amenities, including shops, restaurants and lounges, etc. All these will have to be done on the PPP mode. For this, you need to have land so that a private player can work uninterrupted."

"We (the railways) have enough land but at various places we don't have title deeds. Therefore, we have activated a dedicated team that is in constant touch with state government to transfer title deeds. The government is very positive and is cooperating with us. But it is a time-taking process and needs meticulous planning and paperwork on all fronts," Kumar stressed.

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