Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hi-speed rail link to be fast-tracked

Hi-speed rail link to be fast-tracked

Bangalore: Even as the Karnataka government is having second thoughts about implementing the high speed rail link between MG Road and the Bengaluru International Airport (BIA), the Vision Group on Infrastructure Development has recommended that the project should be fast-tracked.
Capt G R Gopinath, the head of the government-instituted Group, told TOI that there has been a lot of discussion on the project, with several experts going into the matter, and his Group saw no point in delaying the project further. On Tuesday, the Group had its second meeting in a week, this time with V Madhu, principal secretary, infrastructure development department, also participating. “Good infrastructure creates jobs and development. Bangalore needs this project,” Gopinath said.
The last day to submit bids for Request for Qualification (RFQ) invited by the government for the Rs 5,800-crore project is September 30.
If the RFQ does not get a good response, the government has plans to place the project in the upcoming Global Investors Meet scheduled in January.
The project, first mooted in 2007, faced a lot of hitches and had to be approved twice over by the Cabinet. With the economic slowdown, there was uncertainty about whether international firms would be ready to invest in such a project.
Experts opposing the project say it does not make sense to have such an expensive project just to ferry passengers to the airport. But the feasibility study has pointed out that the high speed rail will cater to the airport city which Devanahalli will emerge as.
The 34 km rail link will start from MG Road, run along the right side of the National Highway up to BIA. It will require 162 acres of land on the highway for its structures, and the compensation amount is estimated at Rs 532 crore.
If private parties show no interest in the project, the government is ready with an alternative proposal — to extend the Metro up to the international airport.


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