To help the railways overcome capacity constraints, an expert committee headed by Sam Pitroda is likely to propose investment of Rs 56,000 crore by the ministry of railways, to be implemented over five years. Of the amount, the panel has suggested Rs 11,000 crore be invested in 2012-13. The plan would coincide with the 12th Five-Year Plan.
The Pitroda panel is likely to give its report next week. The panel has estimated a total investment of Rs 358,315 crore in public-private partnership (PPP) initiatives of the railways, in which Rs 302,315 crore would be invested by private players. The PPP projects, excluding dedicated freight corridors and modernisation of stations, require an investment of Rs 97,000 crore.
The panel is also expected to recommend that the railways venture into captive power generation through the PPP route. PPP ventures for energy-saving projects have also been envisaged. Investment in the two categories from the private sector is cumulatively expected to be Rs 5,000 crore. The dedicated freight corridors, are expected to need Rs 204,000 crore and various improvements in information and communication technology require Rs 1,315 crore, said an official.
According to the expert group, the government needs to spend Rs 5.6 lakh crore to modernise the railways. Of this, the 12th Five-Year Plan has already estimated an outlay of Rs 1.83 lakh crore.
In the wake of the railways’ constrained finances, PPPs would be a major source of funding for the projects. To generate this from private players, PPP policy, as a whole, needs to be revamped, so that these are not loaded in favour of the railways, said an official.
Apart from PPP fund projections, the panel is also likely to suggest a task force at the level of chairman of the railway board to drive major PPP projects worth Rs 10,000 crore or more. A ‘PPP ombudsman’ may also be set up to effectively resolve any dispute that may arise. Providing capability for safe, secure and productive freight and passenger trains was also on the agenda, railway minister Dinesh Trivedi had said, while setting up the committee.