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Govt has slow realisation over rapid HSRL

DNBAN57563 | 6/11/2012 | Author : Suchith Kidiyoor | WC :526 | City-Bangalore

After pandering to the whims of a few egoistic leaders and wasting four precious years, better sense seems to be dawning on the state government in providing a cost-effective high-speed link to the Bangalore International Airport (BIA).
The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) has now come up with an option to extend the Metro from Nagavara to the BIA at an incremental cost of Rs4,100cr, instead of the much-hyped option of the High Speed Rail Link (HSRL) project, estimated to cost Rs 9,400 crore.
The state government had recently asked the BMRCL to come out with a report on suitable rapid rail connectivity options to the BIA by studying various aspects, including financial.
Former tourism and infrastructure development minister G Janardhana Reddy was very adamant on implementing the HSRL. Reddy had argued that without the HSRL project, commuting to the BIA would turn into a nightmare, as the traffic density between the city and the BIA was growing at an alarming rate.
However, the project did not take off as Reddy soon lost the ministership and was jailed in an illegal mining case. Meanwhile, the state government realised the need for a rethink on high speed connectivity to the BIA, as the HSRL was not only an expensive proposition, but it benefited only air passengers. That made the government to seek a report from the BMRCL on other options.
Speaking to DNA, N Sivasailam, MD of BMRCL, said, "HSRL would be a dedicated line from the city to the BIA and travel time would be 29 minutes, while on the other hand, the BIA can be connected with the Metro by extending Phase II of the Metro from Nagavara to the BIA. The travel time in Metro would be 44 minutes, as there would be Metro stations every one kilometer.
Both the projects are feasible and it is left to the state government to take a final call. We are going to brief the state government in the next meeting."
But will the state government go for the Metro as it is a more economical option? Replying to the query, Sivasailam said it was like choosing between apple and orange. "Some may like an apple, some may prefer orange. Some may like both of them," said Sivasailam.
It can be recalled that the Infrastructure Development Department had formed the Bangalore Airport Rail Link Limited (BARLL) to implement the HSRL project under Build Operate and Transfer scheme. The department had also short listed five firms - Pioneer Infratech Pvt. Ltd. & Siemens Project Ventures GmbH, Lanco Infratech Ltd. & OHL Concesiones SL, L&T Transco Ltd, Reliance Infrastructure Ltd. & CSR Nanjing Puzhen Rolling Stock Co. Ltd and ITD – ITD Cem Joint Venture.
The government needs to spend hundreds of crores of rupees to acquire 65.96 hectares of land to implement the project. The government had also fixed a fare of `200 to travel from MG Road to the BIA using the HSRL.
When Sivasailam was asked if the HSRL would be done on a private-public partnership if the state government approved it, he said "it was left to the state government to decide on that".

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