In what threatens to spark off a fresh row between the state government and Railways over the Oval Maidan-Churchgate elevated rail corridor project,the government has sought major changes in the implementation of project.
While the Western Railways will execute the Rs 21,000-crore project,the state government will need to assist it in the acquisition of land,relief and rehabilitation of the people affected by the project,temporary diversion of roads,shifting of utilities and deciding on the extent of commercial utilisation (allot additional FSI) of stations and certain other railway-owned land parcels to raise funds for the project.
Although the Railways have already invited expression of interests from private parties interested in setting up the corridor under a public private partnership arrangement,the government has sought to rethink it. A senior state official told The Indian Express Monday,We have asked the Railways to complete the land acquisition and rehabilitation components first before taking any decision on whether to implement the project under PPP or a cash contract by forming a special purpose vehicle involving the centre and the state government.
State Chief Secretary Jayant Kumar Banthia has already written to the Chairman of the Railway Board Arunendra Kumar,intimating him on the state’s stand on the issue. The state has also informed the Planning Commission about this.
Besides,the government is also insisting on changes in the draft support agreement that is to be signed between the two agencies. Sources said to resolve the differences,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will summon both sides on November 13. Kumar,when contacted,said,The matters will be discussed during the PM’s meet.
The draft of the state support agreement has long been the bone of contention between the two sides. Seeking changes in the draft agreement,the government has demanded that in the event that Railways persist with the PPP arrangement,the concessionaire should not be a part of the support agreement between the two sides. To justify its stand,the state has also submitted a legal opinion in this regard from Advocate General of Maharashtra Darius Khambatta.
It has opposed the condition that the centre will have the right to deduct any amount from the state government in the event of a performance default. Such a right should be conferred only after an arbitration award and only after the right to challenge any such award has been exhausted, a senior official said. The 63-km long corridor has been proposed with the aim to decongest the suburban rail traffic.
By SANDEEP ASHAR