Yesterday there was a news report that FM Mukherji snubbed her on some projects included in the Railway budget. He said she should not prepare the railway budget keeping the assembly election in W.Bengal in mind. He told her that she may have to find her own resources for any new railway project. RM was said to have been found with tears in her eyes.
But I just wanted to remind her about some project discussed in public during the period of the previous rly. minister. All the railway platforms in India are covered by asbestos sheets for the past so many decades. Now asbestos is supposed to be carcinogenic and its continuance in the present position may expose the passengers to greater health risks. To remove them and replace with some other roofing material may not be easily done because of the cost factors. Why not sell the space above the platforms of selected railway stations for the construction of commercial areas so that money earned can be used for developmental activity of the railways. Railway stations are all in the central part of the cities and their commercial value is indisputable. This can be tried in selected cities with selected stations and judging from the general response expanding this scheme to other important stations can be thought of. Multistoried buildings erected above the platforms would certainly attract lot of commercial activity. These buildings may be used as hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, rest houses, etc. with separate entrance to the road. Just imagine such building coming up in Churchgate station, Marine lines, Grant road, Dadar, Bhandra, Andheri. Railway may choose to lease out the space and take annual rent from the lessees. Similarly in Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, will generate pulsating commercial activity around the stations enhancing their commercial value many fold. In Chennai all the platforms may be engulfed in a single massive building with separate entrance to the main road. One floor can be earmarked as car park for the convenience of the residents. Railways would enough money for their future development. Madam Mamta with all the reputation she enjoys for clean life can create magic in railways not like the one her predecessor claimed to have done.
If any of my readers offer their comments the efficacy of this project may be further studied or dropped.