The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved a policy for long-term leasing of railway land for the PM Gati Shakti programme, which the government said will help set up 300 cargo terminals and generate 1.25 lakh jobs.
The new policy will help provide land lease for a longer period of up to 35 years as against five years at present, Union Minister Anurag Thakur told the media after the cabinet meeting.
With an employment generation potential of about 1.25 lakh jobs, the policy will also bring more revenue to the Railways; 300 cargo terminals will be developed in five years.
The new policy will enable the integrated development of infrastructure and more cargo terminals. It has also cut down land lease fee from 6 percent to 1.5 percent, the railways said in a statement.
The proposed changes will pave way for privatisation of the Container Corporation of India (Concor) because it will help strategic buyers pay much less amounts as land rentals to railways for a longer period, officials explained.
This was one of the key suggestions put forward by the investment advisors of Concor. The development is believed to be in line with NITI Aayog’s recommendation to keep railway land leasing fee for containers below 3 percent.
Concor, under the aegis of the railway ministry, is engaged in transportation and handling of containers, the officials said. The firm is also engaged in the operation of logistics facilities, including dry ports, container freight stations and private freight terminals.
It has 61 container depots, out of which 26 are on railway land leased on a per container licence fee basis.
The Cabinet in November 2019 had approved divestment of the government’s 30.8 percent shareholding in the company along with the transfer of management control.
The new policy will help in attracting more cargo to railways, increase railways’ modal share in freight transportation thereby reducing cost of logistics of the industry and thus generate more revenue, the railways said.
It will simplify approvals for utilities as envisaged in the PM Gati Shakti Programme. This will help in the development of public utilities like electricity, gas, water supply, telecom cable, sewage disposal, drains, optical fibre cables (OFC), pipelines, roads, flyovers, but terminals, regional rail transport, urban transport in an integrated manner, the statement said.
Additionally, the policy will also enable use of railway land at nominal cost for setting up of solar plants on railway land.
The policy also encourages development of social infrastructure (such as hospitals through PPP and schools through Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangthan) on railway land at a nominal annual fee of Re 1 per sq m per annum, the statement added.