Railways-State Joint Ventures get Cabinet nod

JVs between Indian Railways and States to start with fund of Rs.100 Crore for each state, of which half would come from the states for improved connectivity, faster land acquisition for Railway projects

JV PactsNew Delhi: To boost new and stranded railway infrastructure projects, the cabinet on Wednesday approved the formation of joint venture (JV) companies between the ministry of railways and state governments. Eyeing greater financial role of states in execution of various rail projects across the country, Union Cabinet today approved the formation of Joint Venture companies with several states, which will enable the Centre to mobilise resources for various rail infrastructure projects.

Chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Cabinet decided that the initial paid up capital of Railway Ministry would be limited to Rs 50 crore for each state.

This will help in taking up rail infrastructure projects in states across the country. The initial investment by the ministry has been restricted to Rs.50 crore per state.

According to a government release, the JVs would have an initial paid-up capital of Rs.100 crore for each state, out of which half would come from the state government.

The JVs have also been allowed to form project-specific special purpose vehicles (SPVs) with investments from other stakeholders like banks, public sector undertakings, mining companies, ports, etc.

The JVs would help ensure greater participation of state governments in both monetary terms and decision-making, the government said, adding that it would also facilitate land acquisition and local and state-level clearances.

The ministry of railways has already set up JVs with Odisha and Maharashtra; over a dozen other states, including Punjab and Kerala, have given their in principle approval even as terms and conditions are being negotiated.

A railway official said these JVs are being signed after studying commercial and social viability of projects, with 70% weightage being given to commercial aspects.

Besides, the cabinet committee on economic affairs approved raising the outlay for the grid connected rooftop and small solar power plants programme to Rs.5,000 crore from the existing Rs.600 crore. The programme will support installation of solar rooftop systems, adding up to 4,200 MW, in the country in the next five years.

The cabinet on Wednesday also gave its approval for a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the ministry of urban development and New York-based Bloomberg Philanthropies, for the latter to act as a knowledge partner for the development of smart cities.

As the knowledge partner, Bloomberg Philanthropies will assist the ministry in managing the cities and provide assistance to mayors and leaders on improving urban infrastructure and enabling public sector innovation.

In another decision, the cabinet approved the signing and ratification of an agreement for the exchange of tax information between India and the Maldives.

The agreement will stimulate effective exchange of information between the two countries, which will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance, said a government release.

The cabinet also approved the signing of a protocol amending the convention between India and Slovenia for avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes.

In a bid to improve connectivity between India and Myanmar, the cabinet approved construction of 69 bridges in the Tamu-Kyigone-Kalewa (TKK) road section of the Trilateral Highway in Myanmar at a cost of Rs.371.58 crore.

This will impart all-weather usability to the TKK road, which is also part of the route for the proposed Imphal-Mandalay bus service, said a government release.

The cabinet gave its approval for renewal of an MoU between India and Canada for cooperation in higher education, that is expected to intensify existing partnerships between India and Canada in the field of higher education.

Further,the cabinet approved an MoU on the conservation of migratory birds of prey in Africa and Eurasia, also called the “Raptor MoU”, with the Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species. With this, India will become the 54th signatory to the MoU.

In another decision, the cabinet approved an MoU between research organization SINTEF, Norway and Central Public Works Department (CPWD) for cooperation in the field of recycling of construction and demolition (C&D) waste in India.

The construction industry in India generates about 10-12 million tonnes of waste annually, the government said in its release, adding that while there is a huge demand for aggregates in the housing and road sectors, there is a significant gap between demand and supply, which can be reduced to a certain extent by recycling C&D waste.

Joint Venture can also form project specific special purpose vehicles with equity holding by other stakeholders like banks, ports, public sector undertakings, mining companies, etc.

Various cement, steel, power plants etc. would get the necessary rail link for transportation of their raw material and finished products.

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