Railways to adopt EPC for CST-Panvel

Mumbai: The railways seems to be more confident of its CST to Panvel elevated corridor than its counterpart on the Western suburb-the Oval Maidan to Virar corridor. This could be the reason why the railways has decided to adopt the riskier plan of Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) for the CST-Panvel elevated corridor.

In the EPC model, the responsibility to raise funds lies completely with the government and the contract also states that the government will ensure all the clearances and paperwork are made in time. This only leaves the private company with the task of building the infrastructure, for which they are paid their fees, but if successful the government will be the only beneficiary of the project.

City railway officials who briefed Union railway minister Suresh Prabhu before his meeting with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis last week, explained the risks of each corridor and advised him to go for the EPC for the CST-Panvel elevated corridor and Public-Private-Partnership for Oval Maidan-Virar. Both the Oval Maidan-Virar and the CST- Panvel projects have been estimated to cost the railways Rs 15, 000 crore each.

The government has adopted the EPC model for major infrastructure projects since 2014 as private companies refused to go for PPP, complaining that the delay in projects made it hard for them to take loans from banks.

Officials present at the meeting said talks included the fact that CST-Panvel has no competition and the estimated windfall gain from the project as compared to Oval Maidan-Virar has been seen as a more attractive option. “The railway ministry including the board were given the option of making only one of the elevated projects PPP, so everyone is under the impression that the Virar project is going to bear them losses due to the competition with the Colaba-SEEPZ metro. But CST-Panvel is being looked at as a beacon of hope, that we will make more than enough money out of this project than any in the city before,” said an official on the condition of anonymity.

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