Railways today joined hands with the Urban development ministry for redevelopment of train stations and adjoining areas in around 500 cities with an aim to enhance passenger amenities, provide easy access and make optimal use of land. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in this regard was signed today in the presence of Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu by Mission Director of Smart City Mission Sameer Sharma and Rajiv Chaudhary, Advisor in Ministry of Railways. To be implemented first in the 100 cities included in the Smart City Mission, redevelopment of railway stations will be undertaken in AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) and HRIDAY (Heritage Infrastructure Development and Augmentation Yojana) cities extending the scope of the MoU to over 500 cities, an official statement said. The Ministers termed as "historic landmark" the joint initiative that brings synergy in development of smart cities, and said that there cannot be a smart city without a smart railway station. Naidu suggested that to begin with 10 cities could be taken up for the proposed redevelopment with the involvement of National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) which has successfully executed redevelopment projects on self-financing basis. These cities are: Sarai Rohilla (Delhi), Bhubaneswwar, Lucknow, Varnasi, Jaipur, Kota, Thane, Margao (Goa), Tirupati and Puducherry. Prabhu said that railway stations have been the core of city development and have become congested over time and their redevelopment offers immense opportunities for changing city landscape. Stating that redevelopment work of Habibganj railway station has already been awarded and plans for Anand Vihar (Delhi), Surat, Bijwasan and Gandhinagar are in advanced stage. He said several countries like Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, the UK and Belgium have shown interest in redevelopment and a round-table of domestic and overseas bankers will be organised next week to discuss financing of these redevelopment projects. The proposed redevelopment involving railway stations envisages improving passenger amenities, easy access to stations, integrated public transport hub, waiting halls and other amenities for passengers, development of residential and commercial spaces and land scaping.
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