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Railways to give more teeth to land & station redevelopment bodies

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The railway ministry has decided to give more powers to its two nodal bodies to redevelop stations and its land, a senior official said.

The two bodies -- Railway Land Development Authority (RLDA), and Indian Railways Station Development Corporation (IRSDC) -- are set to get powers to deal with all big decisions on the commercial use of railway land and developing stations, the official said.

The ministry has also formed a high-powered committee which will give recommendations on ways to further strengthen the bodies which will, in turn, speed up the execution of projects.

"The issue of exploiting railway land for commercial use is being looked into afresh and the organisation handling this subject - RLDA - is being further strengthened and empowered to take care of this work effectively, especially big land parcels," Railway Board chairman, Ashwani Lohani, told PTI.

"Similarly, in the case of Station Redevelopment Program (SRP), we have decided to expedite their operations by strengthening the IRSDC further," Lohani said.

The decisions have been taken based on directions issued by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal.

The minister has made it clear, in his meetings with the members of the board, that no department can work in silos and strengthening existing bodies and empowering them should be the goal to deliver work faster, an official said.

The committee's plan, the official said, will be the blueprint for other such bodies.

"So, now, all the land-related projects will be handled by one department –- RLDA -- and all station-related decisions will be taken by the IRSDC. Basically, there will be clarity in the processes involved," said the official, adding that this will expedite processes as files will move faster within the departments.

Similarly, the 'One ICT' (information, communication, and technology) plan is working as a core group within the IT Directorate and not as a separate body.

"Now, it will be part of the bigger IT directorate which works on all IT infrastructure-related activities of the national transporter," the official said.

The 'One ICT' was created to set up an integrated software that would bring various functions of the railways — passenger reservation, movement of goods trains, asset management and other functional requirements of the national transporter — under one roof.

"The minister's focus is on strengthening and empowerment of field offices and field functionaries through delegation of powers, simplification of processes, total clarity on the implementation strategy.. These steps to bring related aspects of operations under one nodal body is a step in that direction," Lohani said.

Goyal has told the officials that streamlining file movement and communication between different departments would ensure that safety projects are completed in time.

In fact, after the Elphinstone bridge stampede in Mumbai, Goyal had also given unlimited powers to the General Managers for 18 months for safety-related issues and questioned why the file for the tender of an additional FOB was delayed.

"The minister has motivated railway employees to adapt new work culture and work in a mission mode to meet the targets and achieve results," the official said.