After several years of dilly-dallying and lack of coordination between the state government and the railway ministry, ambitious plans to commercially develop railway land is finally beginning to take off.
A fortnight after the Rail Land Development Authority — the railway's apex body for such commercial development — put a 43,000 sqm plot in Bandra east for a long lease to build a commercial complex, the RLDA is making its first moves on similar land in Mahalaxmi, Wadala and Kurla Terminus.
The RLDA is getting consultants to evaluate the worth of these properties as per the current market scenario in Mumbai and then in the months to come help it put these lands out on long lease for private sector entities to build commercial complexes on them. The RLDA is also leasing out a plot of land at Vasai station to make a commercial complex, called Multi-Function Complex in railway lingo.
Railway officials in the city are particularly optimistic about the vast spread of land at Kurla especially after the terminus — previously plagued by complaints of poor-connectivity — now has the Santa Cruz-Chembur link road going right through it.
Railway land development in Mumbai came to a standstill thanks to the protracted fight between the state government and the railways over the ownership of the 43,000 sqm Bandra plot. The fight made the rounds of several courts before the state government agreed that the land belonged to the railways.
"But the Bandra land fight showed the railway bureaucracy that in Mumbai the issue of land involves many factors, both legal and illegal, which even government agencies like the railways find tough to surmount," a senior WR official said.
A senior railway ministry official told dna that unless the railways looks at revenue from land development in Mumbai, expecting enough money to flow in for the development of the suburban network is tough ask. "Ticket revenues cannot go beyond a point unless there is large-scale addition of tracks and rail infrastructure. That looks remote at the moment," said an official.
Under railway rules, any land that gets developed this way, the money break-up is such that one-third of the money gets spent on Mumbai, another one-third on any railway project in Maharashtra and the third part in any railway project nationwide.