The railways, whose performance in public-private partnership projects has been dismal, will try five different models for inviting private sector participation for last-mile connectivity projects. From generating funding by customers and joint venture projects with equity participation by the railways to projects on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) and BOT annuity basis, the government hopes it will be able to have speedier implementation.
The proposed framework is also expected to help the railways increase freight volumes. Over two dozen projects in the mining and power sector have been identified for providing rail connectivity.
In a late evening Cabinet meeting, the government also approved expansion of Kolkata’s international airport, including construction of an integrated terminal building. The formal inauguration is likely on January 23, birthday of Subhash Chandra Bose.
The government today also made five per cent ethanol blending with petrol mandatory. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) said the procurement price of ethanol would now be decided between oil marketing companies and the supplier and in case of any shortfall in domestic supply, the OMCs and chemical companies are free to import. The ethanol blending programme is being implemented in 13 states, with a blending level of about two per cent against the compulsory target of five per cent.
A proposal for modernisation of the department of posts was also approved by the CCEA. It okayed Rs 4,909 crore for modernisation and computerisation of all post offices (POs), including branch ones in rural areas. There are 155,000 POs across the country. The information technology project of the department is a part of the Mission Mode Project included in the National e-Governance Plan.
The Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure also approved a project for single point mooring and allied facilities for import of crude oil at Kandla port, on a BOT basis for a period of 30 years at an estimated cost of Rs 622 crore.