Bengaluru: Year after approval, suburban rail still on drawing board; civil work tender yet to be floated | Bengaluru News – Times of India


BENGALURU: Inspired by ‘Metro Man’ E Sreedharan’s digital countdown clock in Metro offices, K-RIDE, which is tasked with implementing the Bengaluru Suburban Rail project, had in January 2021 said it will install one to track the number of days left for the deadline to remind officials to speed up work.
But the mission statement — “Bringing Bengaluru suburban rail project in 2,190 days (six years) — that adorns the home page of the K-RIDE website (kride.in) has remained unchanged for nearly a year now. K-RIDE is a joint venture of the Karnataka government and the railway ministry.
In October 2020, the Centre cleared the long-pending 148km suburban rail. However, the Rs 15,657-crore project is still on the drawing board. K-RIDE is yet to float civil work tenders.
The project comprises four corridors: KSR Bengaluru City-Devanahalli, Byappanahalli-Chikkabanavara, Kengeri-Cantonment-Whitefield and Heelalige-Rajanukunte.
In fact, the project saw massive delays even though it was announced in the 2018-19 Union Budget and cleared by the railway board in November 2019. While sanctioning the project in October 2020, the Centre had stated that the entire project (four corridors) would be completed in six years (2026) and the airport corridor (KSR Bengaluru City-Devanahalli) in three years (2023).
In November 2020, however, the state urban development department instructed K-RIDE to take up Byappanahalli-Chikkabanavara and Heelalige-Rajanukunte in the first phase and another two corridors, which will be running parallel to Namma Metro, in the second phase.
Sources said the plan was to lay the foundation stone of the project before BBMP polls and make at least one corridor operational before the assembly elections in May 2023. Going by the slow pace of the work, this seems unlikely.
In fact, then chief minister BS Yediyurappa in June 2021 stated that suburban rail work would start in three months after completing all tender processes. Yediyurappa had also instructed K-RIDE to complete all tender work and commence Byappanahalli- Chikkabanavara corridor by October 2021.
Though K-RIDE officials had earlier said they will float the civil tender by March 2021, it missed several deadlines. It will take at least three-four months to start work even after inviting the tender. Amit Garg, MD of K-RIDE, was not available for comments.
K-RIDE officials said two other tenders — engagement of general consultant for the project and engagement of transaction advisory services for selection of an entity for procurement, operation & maintenance of rolling stock on PPP model — will be finalised by the end of October.
Citizens disappointed
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Activists and citizens are disappointed with the delay. Rajkumar Dugar, founder and convener of NGO Citizens for Citizens, said: “K-RIDE began preparatory work and other paperwork before the approval, but no work is happening on the ground even after a year. They will not be able to complete all corridors in six years. In fact, they are testing the patience of Bengalureans as 20% of the time period has already passed. There is no urgency on their part to complete the work within the stipulated deadline.”
Sanjeev Dyamannavar, a commuter rail activist, said: “The PM was supposed to lay the foundation stone for the project, but it has not been done yet. There is no clarity on the land acquisition status. Both the Centre and states should reveal whether they conducted any review meetings with K-RIDE to monitor the progress. They have neither called for or awarded construction tenders till now. The airport corridor was supposed to be the priority line, but there’s no clarity on the suburban rail alignment within the airport premises”.





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Sagar Biswas

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