In a major initiative, railway stations and adjoining areas will be redeveloped on Smart City lines for enhancing passenger amenities, easy access to stations, enabling optimal utilization of land at railway stations, as a part of Smart City development. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed today in this regard by the Ministries of Urban Development and Railways in the presence of Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu and Shri Suresh Prabhu. Dr.Sameer Sharma, Mission Director, Smart City Mission and Shri Rajiv Chaudhary, Advisor, Ministry of Railways signed the MoU. Both the Ministers lauded the joint initiative as a historic landmark that brings synergy in development of smart cities since there can’t be a smart city without a smart railway station. Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu said on the occasion that this convergence based city development will result in qualitative improvement in city life. He suggested involvement of local people in redevelopment plans. Shri Naidu suggested that to begin with 10 cities could be taken up for the proposed redevelopment with the involvement of National Buildings Construction Corporation(NBCC) which has successfully executed redevelopment projects on self-financing basis. These cities are : Sarai Rohilla (Delhi), Bhubaneswwar, Lucknow, Varnasi, Jaipur, Kota, Thane, Margao(Goa), Tirupati and Puducherry. This was agreed to by Railway Minister.
Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhu said that railway stations have been the core of city development and have become congested over time and their redevelopment offers immense opportunities for changing city landscape. Stating that redevelopment work of Habibganj railway station has already been awarded and plans for Anand Vihar (Delhi), Surat, Bijwasan and Gandhinagar are in advanced stage. He said that several countries like Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, UK and Belgium have showed interest in redevelopment and a Round Table of domestic and overseas bankers will be organized next week to discuss financing of these redevelopment projects. To be implemented first in the 100 cities included in the Smart City Mission, redevelopment of railway stations will be undertaken in AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) and HRIDAY (Heritage Infrastructure Development and Augmentation Yojana) cities extending the scope of the MoU to over 500 cities.
Railway station and the adjoining area in each of these cities will be redeveloped on the lines of Area Based Development provided in the Smart City Mission Guidelines. Average cost of redevelopment of identified area of about 500 acres in the Smart City Plans of 60 cities approved so far comes to about Rs.1,500 cr. The proposed redevelopment involving railway stations envisages improving passenger amenities, easy access to stations, integrated public transport hub, waiting halls and other amenities for passengers, development of residential and commercial spaces, land scaping etc. The joint initiative of the Ministries of Urban Development and Railways widens the smart city development to one more area in each of the mission cities with each city required to select one area under respective Smart City Plans in the first phase. The MoU proposes two Joint Venture options for speedy redevelopment of railway station centred areas. The first being between the Railways and the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) formed for execution of Smart City Plans, with equal share in equity. In the second model, National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) can be roped in with equal share among the three. NBCC can design, develop and execute the redevelopment plans on self-financing basis.
While the Ministry of Railways takes the responsibility of forming Joint Ventures, the Ministry of Urban Development will work with the States and Urban Local Bodies for integrating railway station redevelopment as part of smart city development plans. MoU states that ‘Both railway station redevelopment and Smart City concepts are part of holistic development of respective city. Redevelopment of railway station and its suburbs as part of Smart City Plans leads to an integrated public transport hub around railway station and encourage Transit Oriented Development.” The validity of the MoU is five years to begin with and can be extended with the consent of both the Ministries.Smart City Plans of some cities have already included area based development surrounding railway stations. These include; Bhubaneswar, Thane and Solapur (Maharashtra), Kakinada (Andhra Pradesh), Ahmedabad, Ajmer, Hubli-Dharwad (Karnataka). Smart City Plans of some other cities may potentially impact city railway station and allied services. These include; Jaipur, Kochi, Jabalpur, Visakhapatnam, Indore, Pune, Bhopal, Chennai etc.