New Delhi: Railways, which recently leased one of its vacant land at a prime location in Delhi to a private builder for about Rs 1,650 crore, has identified more than 300 sites for commercial usage across the country.
   
Currently, the Railways has approximately 43,000 hectares of vacant land which is not required for operational purposes. These sites are being offered to private developers for commercial purpose.

About 167 of the 305 identified sites will be used for development of multi-function complex (MFC) and 138 others for commercial development, Railway sources said.
   
"The list is not final. Identification of such vacant land is an ongoing process," they said.

A number of these locations fall in West Bengal – the home state of former Railway minister Mamata Banerjee and her successor Dinesh Trivedi.

A glance through the list of these sites reveals that 38 out of the 138 locations marked for commercial development across the country are in West Bengal.
   
Railways had earned a major dividend early this year when it leased 15.5 hectare land in Sarai Rohilla in Delhi to realty firm Parsvnath for about Rs 1,650 crore.

It is expecting a similar cash flow through leasing the identified sites which will help the largest public undertaking to partially tide over its financial crisis.

The MFCs will provide multiple facilities like shopping, food stalls/restaurants, book stalls, PCO booths, ATMs, medicine, parking space and other similar amenities to rail users at Railway stations.

On the other hand, projects for commercial development would be for residential and non-residential purposes.

"But, no permission can be given for building of a factory on these lands," sources said.

Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA), a statutory authority under the Ministry of Railways set up in 2007, has been entrusted with the responsibility of leasing out these vacant Railway land for the purpose of generating revenue by non-tariff measures.

The vacant land in different sites has been identified by the Railways itself.

Railway zones send details of the vacant land identified for mopping up additional revenue through non-conventional sources to the Railway Board which entrust it to RLDA for further action.

The RLDA through detailed spot study of the sites decide the commercial potential of the land, its earning capacity, market demand and public perception to decide for what commercial purposes it was fit for, they said while explaining the procedure.

Two big sites measuring 12,220 hectares and 10,032 hectares have been identified in Asansol division of West Bengal for MFC purposes, they said.

Giving status report of these sites, the sources said while on some proposed sites bids are to be invited soon in others consultancy process is on and in some places it is under inspection and study.

(Agencies)