Sunday, November 15, 2009

ABIDe plan could derail HSRL project to airport

ABIDe plan could derail HSRL project to airport
P M Raghunandan, Bangalore, Nov 14, DH News Service:

The vexed high speed rail link (HSRL) project to Bengaluru international airport has many more hurdles to cross before it could chug along.

A Rs 5,200 crore project, which has received an overwhelming response from investors across the globe, may get derailed if ABIDe (Agenda for Bangalore Infrastructure and Development Task Force) has its way. ABIDe, which has been opposing the HSRL and insisting that a metro should replace it, is now exploring other corridors to connect the BIA with the City, official sources told Deccan Herald.

ABIDe, sources said, it is finalising a corridor -- Yeshwanthpur, Mattikere, BEL, Sahakaranagar and BIA via NH-7 -- which is likely to clash with that of the HSRL. Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRC), it is learnt, has done a survey of this corridor for the ABIDe. “Mooting an alternative proposal at this juncture will deliver a huge blow to the HSRL. The investors would step back leaving the high speed rail project in a limbo,” officials pointed out.

ABIDe Convener and MP Rajiv Chandrashekar and its vice-chairman Ananth Kumar are said to be against the HSRL. The opposition to the project is such that Capt Gopinath, the pioneer of low-cost airlines, was given the marching orders from the Vision Group for Infrastructure Development for Bangalore for having spoken in favour of the HSRL recently.

However, Minister for Infrastructure Development Janardhana Reddy has backed the project. Reddy had strongly opposed the appointment of Rajiv Chandrashekar as the chairman of flood relief monitoring cell recently. It was in fact one of the reasons for the Bellary Reddys to raise a banner of revolt against CM Yeddyurappa.

Officials said the HSRL project is already half way through the tender process. “The project has received splendid response from investors despite economic downturn. Five consortiums, comprising 14 big time investors, have come forward to invest money into project on PPP basis,” sources said.

The Government cannot withdraw the HSRL at this moment. But it can be spiked only by confusing and discouraging investors from taking it up. “This is exactly what will happen if another corridor to BIA is mooted now. Investors will think twice before taking up any project in future in the State if the HSRL is dropped at this juncture,” officials warned.
The five consortiums are: Reliance Infrastructure Limited and CSR Nanjing Puzhen Rolling Stock Co Ltd; L & T Transco Limited; ITD-ITD Cem Joint Venture (Italian – Thai Development Public Co. Ltd & ITD Cementation India Limited); Pioneer Infratech Pvt. Ltd & Siemens Project Ventures Gmbh; Lanco Infratech Ltd & OHL Concesiones SL.

In fact, ABIDe had opposed the project in September last year and stalled the tender process. Then, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation MD Sreedharan intervened and asked the CM Yeddyurappa to go ahead with it. Then, the State Cabinet gave the green signal in February, 2009. DMRC is the consultant for the HSRL.

When contacted, BMRC MD N Sivasailam refused to comment. ABIDe member and transport expert Sreehari confirmed that BMRC has come forward with a metro rail plan from Yeshwanthpur to BIA. “Both the HSRL and metro are waste of tax-payers’ money. We can connect the BIA with the City by using the South Western Railway line,” he stated.


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