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Indian Railways is sitting on a vacant land bank of 47,336 hectare and 942 hectare under encroachment out of a total land area of 4,57,689 hectare.
Answering a question in Parliament, railway minister DV Sadananda Gowda said the vacant land is mostly in the form of narrow strips along tracks, which is required for servicing and maintenance of track and other infrastructure.
The vacant land is also utilised for execution of infrastructural projects to meet future growth needs and includes projects like doubling traffic facilities, rail coach and component factories. "The vacant land, which is not required by the railways for immediate operational needs, is utilised for commercial development, wherever feasible, in order to mobilise financial resources through the Rail Land Development Authority," he said.
Gowda said encroachments cause bottlenecks and safety hazards in train operations and difficulties in track maintenance, which at times affects the line capacity and throughput.
"Regular measures are taken to protect railway land from encroachment, which include licensing of land to railway employees, provision of boundary walls and tree plantation at vulnerable locations," he said.
CAG report on PPP to be tabled today
CAG’s audit report on Public Private Partnership (PPP) in the railways will be tabled in Parliament on Friday.
The railways’ performance in attracting private investment has been dismal. Despite this, it is banking hugely upon private investment in the current financial year. For 2014-15, the national transport has a private investment target of R6,000 crore. In the 12th Five Year Plan, the PPP target is a whopping R1 lakh crore.