Kolkata: A number of railway projects were getting delayed as prior permission was needed from the cabinet for commercial utilisation of railway land, Railways Minister Mukul Roy said.

"Construction of world-class stations, multifunctional stations and the Eastern Freight Corridor are getting delayed. Various projects under PPP models are also getting stuck as we need prior permission from the union cabinet for commercial utilisation of railway land," Roy said.

Seeking a solution to the problem, Roy and Railway Board Chairman Vinay Mittal had met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee three days ago. The finance secretary and the secretary (expenditure) of the finance ministry were also present in the meeting.

"Hopefully the issue will be sorted out within a short period of time," he said.
In March 2011, the cabinet secretariat had issued a circular which mandated cabinet clearance to lease out any government-owned land.

Stressing on the importance of mobilising additional revenues through commercial utilisation of railway land, the minister said he wanted to lay thrust on using vacant land also for advertisements.

According to a recent report by the Railways Modernisation Committee, the Railways have 10,000 acres of surplus land in urban centres which have been identified for commercialisation. The total vacant Railway land at present is about 1.13 lakh acre, official figures say.

Essential for servicing and maintenance of tracks and other infrastructure, vacant land is mostly in the form of narrow strips along the tracks.

(Agencies)

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