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While the planning process for three multi-billion dollar elevated railway projects is on track, housing the displaced will be a Herculean task — quite unlike the rehabilitation undertaken for any infra project so far. The three multi-billion dollar elevated Railway projects, which have been moving from drawing board stage towards reality at an uncharacteristically high speed, are now faced with their biggest challenge — rehabilitation of project-affected persons. While the Railway Ministry, the Planning Commission and the State Government departments involved in the Churchgate-Virar, CST-Panvel and CST-Kalyan elevated Railway projects are on the same page on most issues, senior government functionaries told Mumbai Mirror that rehabilitating people affected during construction would be a task incomparable to anything done so far. Speaking to Mirror,... Read more...
Chief Secretary Ratnakar Gaikwad said, “There are many rehabilitation issues as existing structures will have to be demolished. The Railways are looking at some models for developing the elevated corridors. I met with the general managers of Central and Western Railway recently, and the State has promised to coordinate and facilitate the projects.” A senior Railway official admitted that rehabilitation will indeed be a vexed issue, more so as the buildings which might have to be demolished will be in the vicinity of the tracks or stations and therefore command higher prices. “The Churchgate-Virar project, which is in an advanced stage of planning, will throw up space for redevelopment, possibly at plots adjacent to the existing tracks or even above the proposed elevated platforms. But, while the private participant will be allowed to use this space to recover his investment, even if a small portion of this space is utilised to rehabilitate PAPs, it will eat into his financial gain. This is something that will have to be worked out right down to the last detail,” the official said. As per the study made by engineering consultancy major RITES, around 1.4 million square feet of space can be developed commercially as part of the financing strategy of the Churchgate-Virar project. If a promised FSI of 4 comes through, then this space becomes 5.6 million square feet. “The Railways and State Government are examining the possibility of allowing the private participant to build residential complexes on land given to him. RITES too has recommended a lease of 65 years on the land, something that is ideal for residential purposes,” the official said. “The problem, however, is whether using part of this space for rehabilitation will dent the financial viability of the project. The other side of the coin is that the State will need to rehabilitate these people close to where they already are — or face the likelihood of lengthy litigations,” the official added. • The Churchgate-Virar project will throw up space for redevelopment, possibly at plots adjacent to the tracks or proposed elevated platforms