The Bengaluru suburban rail project, which is awaiting cabinet approval since 2018, has again found mention in the Union Budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Sitharaman, who also represents Karnataka in the Rajya Sabha, on Saturday announced that the Bengaluru suburban project will cost Rs 18,600 crore and that the Centre government will contribute 20 per cent equity.
“The 148 km long Bengaluru Suburban transport project at a cost of 18600 crores, would have fares on the metro model. Central Government would provide 20% of equity and facilitate external assistance up to 60% of the project cost,” said Nirmala Sitharaman.
The residents of Bengaluru has been demanding the construction of a suburban rail network in the city to decongest the city traffic. The proposed Bengaluru Suburban Rail project will have four corridors covering a total network length of 148 km. The four approved corridors are KSR Bengaluru City and Devanahalli; Chikkabanavara, Yeswanthpura, and Baiyappanahalli; Heelalige – Yelahanka – Rajanakunte; and Kengeri – KSR Bengaluru – Electronics City.
The project, however, is pending before the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for approval. But this was not the first time the project was announced in the Union budget. In the 2018-19 budget, the Centre government had announced to take up the project at an estimated cost of Rs 17,000 crore. In the 2019 Union budget, Nirmala Sitharaman had allocated a token fund of Rs 1 crore.
Welcoming the project, Bengaluru Central MP PC Mohan tweeted, “Thank you PM Shri @narendramodi & FM Smt @nsitharaman for giving huge boost to urban transport & dream project of Bengalureans & providing Rs 18,600 Crores budget outlay for Bengaluru #SuburbanRail project.”
But citizen activists questioned the MP about the promise in previous budgets. Srinivas Alavilli, co-founder, Citizens for Bengaluru, said in the tweet, “Sir if this is a huge boost what was it when we got ?17,000 crores allocated by @arunjaitley in 2018 budget? We need to know why union cabinet has not approved our suburban project. Please tell us. We are tired. It has been a long long wait for #ChukuBukuBeku”
Sir if this is a huge boost what was it when we got ₹17,000 crores allocated by @arunjaitley in 2018 budget? We need to know why union cabinet has not approved our suburban project. Please tell us. We are tired. It has been a long long wait for #ChukuBukuBeku https://t.co/fg0j8UlHdb
— Srinivas Alavilli (@srinualavilli) February 1, 2020
Sanjeev Dyamannavar, an urban transport expert asked the MP in twitter, “Sir @PCMohanMP ur well aware same statement in previous 2budgets & approval pending with CCEA personally u r following, these budget statement has no meanings as project delayed by GOI for 15months & citizens r suffering”
Sir @PCMohanMP ur well aware same statement in previous 2budgets & approval pending with CCEA personally u r following, these budget statement has no meanings as project delayed by GOI for 15months & citizens r suffering @PMOIndia @PiyushGoyal @BSYBJP @blsanthosh @SureshAngadi_ https://t.co/xGNCFRqQL3
— Sanjeev Dyamannavar (@dyamannavar) February 1, 2020
The Union Finance Minister also announced an expressway connecting Chennai and Bengaluru. In the speech, Nirmala Sitharaman said, “accelerated development of highways will be undertaken. This will include development of 2500 Km access control highways, 9000 Km of economic corridors, 2000 Km of coastal and land port roads and 2000 Km of strategic highways. Delhi-Mumbai Expressway and two other packages would be completed by 2023 . Chennai-Bengaluru Expressway would also be started.”
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