Indian Railways aims to save Rs 41,000 crore (over $6 billion) on electricity expenses by switching over to solar energy over the next 10 years, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu announced on Saturday.He said the Ministry of Railways had prepared 'Mission 41K' to save electricity consumption charges by betting big on solar energy.He was speaking after formally inaugurating various railway infrastructure projects at the Hi-Tech City railway station here.The minister said efforts were also on to mop-up Rs 17,000 crore through non-fare revenue modes. "We will not only cut the costs but will generate additional revenue," he said.He recalled that after taking over as railway minister, he had laid out a plan that energy should come down by 15 per cent.Claiming that about Rs 4,000 crore was saved on electricity consumption charges so far, he said the target of saving Rs 41,000 crore would be met by generating 1,000 Megawatt of solar power in the next five years"In addition, we have already started production of 26 MW in wind energy. We are also working on converting waste to energy and commissioned two such projects," Prabhu said.The minister said 500 MW will be produced by installing solar panels on rooftops of railway buildings and another 500 MW through land based.
"Traction power and non-traction power both will benefit from solar power and as well as reducing cost of energy," he added.The Ministry is drawing up plans for investment to the tune of Rs 8.5 lakh crore. He claimed there was no financial problem for railways and that it had completely bankable projects.He said the Ministry was focussing on completion of existing projects. He called up on state government to have joint ventures with Railways to implement more projects.He said every joint venture was being implemented on the basis of 25 percent equity and 75 percent debt. For every project, two or three top banks were preparing business plan.Prabhu said the Railways aimed to plant five crore plants all over the country over five years. "We have already planted 1.5 crore plants by involving state governments," he said and appealed to all to go for maximum plantation during ensuing monsoon.Prabhu also stressed the need for revival of water bodies by the Railways, saying this will help in making huge savings besides meeting the water requirement."Railways must save cost. We can't expect our costs go up and somebody pay for it either passenger or freight," he said.
Later, addressing a conference of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the minister said the central government has plans to invest about $142 billion in Railways over the next five years."We plan to invest $142 billion for Railways in the next five years. We have already put Rs 3.50 lakh crore during the past two-and-half years," he said.He pointed out that the investments in Railways had gone up to Rs 3.50 lakh crore from Rs 40,000 crore.Prabhu said there was huge scope for infrastructure development as 16 per cent of the railway network in the country handles 60 per cent of the total traffic.More investments would lead to higher GDP and for the government to make investments, the revenues have to increase, he said while stressing the need for improving GDP to tax ratio.He told the industrialists that Railways had sanctioned doubling of 12,500 km lines while there are plans to increase the speed of trains by 10 km per hour.Currently, the Railways are laying 10 km new line every day and there are plans to increase the pace to 100 km per day, he added.He claimed that joint ventures with 17 states were helping in expeditious completion of the projects.