Railways to revamp PPP Cell for projects worth Rs.8.56 Lakh crore

New Delhi: The railway ministry has set up a committee to boost its Public-Private Partnership (PPP) cell to make it ‘more effective, customer-friendly and result-oriented.’

What it boils down to is this: with the railways requiring Rs 8.65 lakh crore between 2015 and 2019 for mega projects, partnering with the private sector is the best bet.

Of particular interest are two projects – the Oval Maidan-Churchgate-Virar and the CST-Panvel elevated corridors. Both are expected to be executed on the PPP model.

The two projects are worth over Rs 40,000 crore (in 2012 prices) and have been moving at a snail’s pace for the past couple of years.

In fact, the Oval Maidan-Churchgate-Virar elevated corridor is almost defunct with the state and the railways failing to sign the all-important State Support Agreement since May 2012.

As a result, many private players which initially participated in the road show for the project, withdrew from the fray later.

The CST-Panvel corridor, too, is moving slowly with railway officials claiming that the chances of it coming up, with high-speed air-conditioned trains as envisaged, arise only if the proposed Navi Mumbai airport comes up.

There is also a plan for an elevated corridor between CST and Kalyan, though it is still in its nascent stages.

Officials welcomed the move to revamp the PPP cell. “The railways plans to spend Rs 1 lakh-odd each for rolling stock and wagons and for station development and logistics parks.

“These are avenues that will almost necessarily go the PPP way. So creating a conducive atmosphere at the railway ministry is paramount. We don’t need a situation like the Churchgate-Virar elevated corridor where private firms, one after the other, opted out because of the yawning communication gap between the state government and the railway ministry,” said a senior Mumbai railway official.

The committee -The committee will be headed by retired 1973 batch IAS official Ajay Shankar who has worked with railway minister Suresh Prabhu when the latter was power minister between September 2000 and August 2002 in the A B Vajpayee government. Shankar and Prabhu jointly worked on the preparation and enactment of the Electricity Act, 2003, that became law in May 2003. He has a Masters in Political Science from Allahabad University and a Masters in Economics from Georgetown University, Washington D.C.