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Cabinet to consider GoM proposals on Railways' freight corridor

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Aug 9 (UNI) The government will soon take a decision on the setting up of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for the execution of the Railways' dedicated freight corridor project, which will phenomenally speed up the movement of goods trains in the country.

This was announced by Railway Minister Lalu Prasad after the second and final round of the meeting of the Group of Ministers, attended by Mr Prasad, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson M S Ahluwalia.

''All the proposals discussed at today's meeting will be sent to the Union Cabinet for taking a final decision,'' Mr Prasad told reporters.

Refusing to divulge anything on today's hour-long deliberations because of the ongoing Parliament session, the minister merely stated that the proposals would be referred to the Cabinet ''this week''.

He, however, said all the issues relating to the constitution of the SPV and its funding pattern were discussed. ''Talks, held in a cordial atmosphere, were extremely satisfactory.'' ''At the meeting, the investment pattern, measures to expedite the formation of the SPV and some other issues were raised,'' he said.

Mr Prasad said the 'big ticket' dedicated freight corridors project between Delhi and Mumbai and Delhi and Kolkata, estimated to cost Rs 22,000 crore, would considerably bolster the revenues of the Railways by putting the goods trains, which currently ply on loop lines, on special tracks.

While lauding Mr Chidambaram as ''a very efficient and sharp-minded'', the Railway Minister said, ''It is the duty of a Finance Minister to solve the problem and give proper advise to the government.'' ''The GoM has done its job, and there would be no further meetings. The final decision has to be taken by the Cabinet,'' he said.

At the first meeting of the GoM held last week, certain differences between the two ministries had cropped up with the Railway Minister asserting that the SPV would be fully owned by his ministry.

''The SPV will be fully owned by the Railway Ministry but private players and international investors would be invited for funding the ambitious project,'' Mr Prasad had said.

Conceding that the thin profit of margin would be a constraint for private investors, the minister said JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) had shown interest in funding the project, and it would be welcome.

The minister had earlier said that the interim report on the project would be ready before the year-end. ''We are keen that the founadtion stone of the project is laid by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the earliest.'' A team of consultants from JICA, comprising project management group, intermodal research group and engineering group, arrived in India last month for carrying out the feasibility study on the freight corridors. A team of officials from the Railway Ministry has been set up to coordinate with the study team.


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