The Railway Land Development Authority (RLDA), a wing of the Union railway ministry, has offered a four-acre plot in a railway colony near the New Jalpaiguri (NJP) station on a 99-year lease.
The move appears to be a part of the Narendra Modi government’s bid to push ahead with its plan to monetise national assets despite resistance from the Opposition.
A recent tender issued by the RLDA mentions that the Barrack Colony in NJP — a portion of railway land that has abandoned quarters — has been offered on lease against a sum of Rs 26.7 crore.
“Altogether, 21,963sqm (around 5.42 acres) of land is available in the colony. Of that, 16,222sqm (around four acres) will be offered on lease. The company that secures the bid can develop commercial and residential facilities there. On the remaining 1.42 acres, the company will have to build 96 quarters for railway employees within two years,” a source said.
Earlier this year, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had unveiled the ambitious National Monetisation Pipeline with a target to generate Rs 6 lakh crore by monetising assets in different sectors. According to the plan, around Rs 1.5 lakh crore could be raised by monetising railway assets.
From Rajasthan to Tamil Nadu, parcels of land have been offered on lease. For example, a plot at Jhusi of Uttar Pradesh has been offered on lease against a sum of Rs 79.40 crore for residential development.
The railway sites up for grabs include plots at a number of locations in Bengal, such as Asansol and Howrah.
“It is not only the land. The railways are also offering multi-functional complexes (MFCs or multi-storied commercial buildings) that had been built at various stations across the country. In Bengal, the MFCs located at stations in Balurghat, Malda town, Dhakuria, Siuri and Jhargram have been offered on 45 years’ lease,” said a source.
Soumen Nag, a researcher in Siliguri, said: “The identification of probable assets which can be offered on lease has started and the RLDA has been entrusted with the responsibility to find out prospective investors. That is why, a four-acre plot at the NJP has been offered on lease.”
A retired railway employee said the people of the country and the Opposition would not allow all national assets to be sold. “They (the centre) are bound to face resistance,” the employee said.