Guntur: The decision of Railway Board to rope in private developers for modernization of goods sheds is creating ripples among employees of the biggest public transporter of the country.
The railway board has already cleared decks for the entry of private players in operating passenger trains in select routes. Employees are worried that the decision to take private contractors on board to develop goods sheds might take the cream away from the railways as the goods sheds, the freight operating points are the biggest revenue generating source for the department.
According to information, about 800 to 1000 key freight operating points are likely to be developed under Public Private Partnership Mode.
Following instructions from the railway board, all railway divisions across the country have started notifying the goods sheds for development under PPP mode.
Different railway divisions have invited Expression of Interest (EoI) from interested individuals, companies, multinational companies, and other entities for infrastructural development goods sheds.
The railway board has left the entire development plans including design, construction and operation ideas to the private firms for filing of EoI.
“The field has been left open to the bidders because we wanted to tap the best among the bids. Since it is only EoI, the final call will be taken only keeping in view of the benefits to the railways,” said a senior railway divisional official.
However, employees’ unions raised objections over the manner in which the development of goods sheds is being taken up. “It is nothing but giving away the keys of treasury to the private by allowing them to quote whatever they want,” railway mazdoor union leader Hanumantha Rao said.
For instance, the Guntur railway division has invited EoI for development of seven top revenue earning goods sheds including Miryalaguda, Reddipalem, Nandyal, Nadikudi, Nalgonda, Narasaraopet and Chityala. In the notification, the railways said that parties can also propose the same for any other goods shed across the Guntur division also if it suits their requirement.
“EoI has been sought under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model of infrastructural development. The objective is to develop goods sheds as transportation hubs with world-class facilities for facilitating storage and transport of goods using the railway network,” said senior divisional commercial manager Narendra Varma.
He said that the bidding is not limited to loading/unloading facilities (preferably mechanized), but also for making lighting arrangements, approach roads, covered sheds.
In lieu of the development, based on business dimensions (not limited to) like revenue, tonnage, the developer may be given incentives by the railway, said Varma.