The Indian Railways is considering to outsource the task of developing its railway stations across the country by putting their details online and inviting bids from interested parties. Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu told Parliament on Friday that this move is being considered to complete the development “of a large number of stations in the shortest possible time”.
“We put it on website and invite bids that if anybody would like to develop a station, please tell us. If you can fulfil all these obligations towards the Railways, what is that you want from the Railways?” Prabhu said while replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha.
“All of that then could be, on hands-off basis, properly scrutinised by a technical authority on one side, and parallely by a financial consultant and then again the shortlisted bids could be put in public domain through a website. So the whole exercise will be completely transparent,” he said during Question Hour, saying that “we really need to revisit this issue in its entirety”.
Currently, Prabhu said, there are elaborate processes involved in developing a railway station. He cited “inception and pre-feasibility report”, appointment of architect, technical consultants, financial and legal consultants, “in-principle approval of local authorities”, “request for qualification”, “shortlisting of bidders”, and “request for technical proposals” to underline how this exercise takes such a long time.
“What we are proposing is why not pull all the stations that we have in India for redevelopment without going through these elaborate processes which I have mentioned,” he said. “Rather than that, if you put it in public domain, put it on website and say all the stations of India, small, big, A size, A-plus size, all categories would be developed in this way.”
Proposing this, Prabhu also said that he would return to Parliament after getting Cabinet clearance for the proposal. “We will come to Parliament at a time when this could be done in a way that is completely transparent…,” he said.
“What we want is an outcome from the development of stations. It should be something like this that we want proper and adequate waiting room facilities, ladies dormitories… we must have segregation of arrival and departure, all essential facilities like catering, unifying integration at both sides of the city, integration with public transport as access station etc,” he said. “Probably, then only we will be able to complete a large number of stations in the shortest possible time.”