To end encroachment, Railways to build houses for slum dwellers

Houses for slum dwellers will be constructed along the rail track, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said on Friday. Out of 11-lakh acres of land at the disposal of the Railways, two lakh acres was encroached upon including by slum dwellers, who posed a threat to train movement as well.

Mr. Bansal said the Railways intended using land adjacent to 7000 stations for redeveloping them. On part of the land multi-storeyed buildings would come up and flats allotted to slum dwellers, he said speaking at a seminar on Public Private Partnership in the Railways organised here by Assocham.

The Railways intended working in cooperation with the Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Ministry for building houses, thereby raising the living standards of slum dwellers.

He underlined the need for raising fares which, he said, had not been revised for several years now, and improving the Railway’s financial health.

Inviting private investment, Mr. Bansal said the plan was to invest about Rs. 1 lakh crore during the next five years in upgrading the rail network and in different projects. He expected private sector contribution in making engines, running high-speed trains, and in the dedicated freight corridor and container transportation. The core functions would remain with the Railways, while the private sector would be expected to expand the rail network.

The Minister also sought private cooperation in executing the ambitious programme of redeveloping five stations — Hazrat Nizamuddin, New Delhi, Bhopal, Chandigarh and Pune.

On the PMO’s directive, the Railways were in the process of inviting bids for setting up electric and diesel locomotive factories in Madhepura and Marhaura in Bihar in PPP mode.

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