Kochi: The proposed semi-high-speed rail corridor project connecting Thiruvananthapuram and Kasargod will not only cut the travel time, but also ‘change the face of Kerala,’ it is claimed.
A well-planned real estate development project appears to be the subtext of the ambitious project as it plans to acquire 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) apart from locking another few hundred acres on either side of the corridor.
The Rs 55,000-crore venture envisages cutting the travel time between the state capital and the northernmost district to under five hours. At present, it takes 10 to 12 hours to cover the 574-km distance.
The project is in the initial stage and the number of people to be evicted is still being worked out.
The Kerala Rail Development Corporation (KRDCL), the implementing agency, in its request for proposal (RFP) document has stated that ‘unlocking the land value’ is one of its key objectives.
The promoters project land as a key ingredient for the project which it says will “change the face of Kerala.”
“Monetisation of land values through induced and activated land use change is a new revenue generation source worldwide,” says the RFP.
“In addition to developing the 10 stations of the rail line for commercial and residential use, the KRDCL proposes to establish modern self-contained organic agricultural cities and ...
sustainable smart cities in the vicinity of the stations and also alongside the alignment to unlock their land value,” says the RFP.
The stations will be in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Chengannur, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasargod.
The organic agricultural and smart cities will also be accorded special zone status. “Sustainable development of an area of around 1,000 hectares in and around the 10 stations with special zone status can change the face of Kerala," asserts the RFP.
The KRDCL plans to float a fresh RFP based on the inputs received by it on the one floated by it on August 7. According to the original schedule, the process was to be completed by September 27. The fresh RFP is likely to be floated in the next few days, said a KRDCL official.
Apart from identifying land for the potential venture, the RFP also states that KRDCL is "identifying the availability of land in different parts of Kerala with the government, public sector and quasi- government agencies."
The identified areas mentioned in the document included 28 hectares available with the Aluminium Industries Limited at Kundara, 121 hectares with FACT at Brahmapuram, Kochi, and 40 hectares with HMT at Kalamasserry. It is not clear whether KRDCL has already received the consent from the owners of these respective companies for taking over the land.
Although the original estimate of the project was Rs 55,000 crore, the RFP projects that the cost may come to Rs 66,000 crore, up by Rs 11,000 crore.
The main criterion for qualification is that the bidder should have completed or substantially completed projects of cumulative size of a minimum of 3,000 acres in the last 10 years in at least three areas such as urban development, industrial clusters/corridors and investment promotion, development of agri-based commercial hubs, transit- oriented development, smart city infrastructure, real estate development, entertainment and leisure parks, townships, special economic zones, multi-modal logistics parks or IT parks.
The main job of the consultant will be to “formulate a technically and economically feasible and socially and environmentally sustainable strategy and master plan for development of identified land parcels providing sufficient details for its implementation, including layout plans of the utilities and road networks, concept design and General Arrangement Drawings and monetising the land parcels.”...