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Sunday, September 20, 2020

To raise funds, Centre moots divestment in Kolkata Metro

The suggestion came during a meeting of the GoS, which is empowered to take decisions related to Railway projects and matters, sources said.

Written by Harikishan Sharma | New Delhi | Updated: August 29, 2020 1:47:36 pm
kolkata metro, kolkata metro services, kolkata unlock 4.0, kolkata coronavirus lockdown, kolkata city newsThe Union Home Ministry, in its Unlock-4 guidelines, has allowed Metro Railway services across India to resume from September 7 in a graded manner.

A Group of Secretaries (GoS) to the Union government has suggested “asset monetisation/disinvestment” in Kolkata Metro, the country’s oldest Metro system and the only one that is under the administrative control of Indian Railways.

The suggestion came during a meeting of the GoS, which is empowered to take decisions related to Railway projects and matters, sources said. The GoS pointed out that all of India’s other Metro projects are vested with state governments, sources said.

Officials from the Ministries of Finance, Railways, and Housing and Urban Affairs, as well as the Railway Board and NITI Aayog, attended the 11th meeting of the GoS, held via video conference on July 16. They discussed options for Railways to reduce dependence on borrowings and increase “innovative financing”, the minutes of the meeting show.

According to the minutes, accessed by The Indian Express, Railway Board officials informed the GoS that the Railways have “nearly tripled its capital expenditure in 2019-20 compared to 2014-15”, and that 70 per cent of the additional expenditure has been met through “borrowings from Extra Budgetary Resources (Institutional Finance)”.

“It was presented that Railway revenues dropped by 52.6 per cent in (the) current year up to June compared to last year and (a) shortfall of around Rs 75,000 crore is expected in revenue over budget target in 2020-21,” the minutes say.

On ways to increase Railways revenues, the minutes say: “…there is an urgent need for shifting emphasis on increasing revenue: (i) ‘creeping increase in passenger fare’ over a period of time; (ii) non-fare revenue increase – (a) advertisement; (b) asset monetisation/disinvestment in CONCOR, IRCTC, Kolkata Metro (with all the other metros vesting with respective state governments); and (c) User fee on all stations – given the quantum of the non-passenger traffic on railway stations, it would be a significant revenue source.”

The idea of “monetisation /disinvestment” of Kolkata Metro, which began operations in 1984, has been mooted for the first time.

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