Months before Parliament polls, Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge has cleared the decks for setting up a coach factory in Kolar, Karnataka.
The proposal had been hanging fire for the past three years. The factory will be a 50-50 joint venture between the Railways and the State, which will bear half of the Rs 1,400-crore project cost and also provide land for it free of cost in a first-of-its-kind model. The State government had earlier released Rs 25 crore for acquiring the land.
The project is part of a Rs 23,000-crore bonanza Karnataka received from the Railway ministry. A memorandum of understanding will be signed between the Railways and the State this month. Another Karnataka Congress leader and former Minister of State for Railways K H Muniyappa had got this proposal passed in the 2011-12 Rail Budget but it remained in cold storage.
With the Congress coming to power in Karnataka last year and State leader Kharge assuming charge of the Railway ministry around the same time, efforts began to revive it. Kharge carried out an official inspection of the land in November and Muniyappa, now Union Minister of State for Micro, Small and Medium Industries, started following up with the State government for agreement on 1,200 acres of land in Kolar, his constituency which is historically known for its gold fields. According to official estimates, the Kolar factory will generate 5,000 jobs. The Railways has another coach factory coming up in Palakkad, Kerala.