Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
On 25 February, commuters across Mumbai and its peripheral areas were looking forward to something positive from the Hon’ble Railway Minister Shri Suresh Prabhu as he presented the Railway Budget 2016-17.
In Mumbai and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), ‘Affordable Housing for the Common Man’ is something that will largely happen in peripheral areas; and ensuring that these homes are connected to work places, including the CBDs of Mumbai, is a factor of transport linkages. Across Mumbai and the MMR, the railway network offers some of the most efficient mass rapid transit options for the common man looking at affordable homes in peripheral areas of metro cities as also new real estate developments. It is in this light that we have to view the Railway Budget announced by the Union Railways Minister Shri Suresh Prabhu for the year 2016-17. Among the various aspects he mentioned, I would like to dwell on the two elevated rail corridors which he has envisaged from Churchgate and CST on Mumbai’s suburban railway system. For once, we have a rail budget which has taken up an issue pertaining to Mumbai’s suburban network, and I am hopeful that it will have a positive impact.
In Mumbai and the MMR, rail connectivity has been the biggest driver of real estate growth in peripheral areas. New urban conglomerations have developed as a result of rail connectivity. The Hon’ble Minister spoke about increasing the height of Mumbai’s railway platforms, which points towards increased emphasis on safety. He also announced a new dedicated freight corridor, from Mumbai to Kharagpur, which I hope, will have a positive effect similar to the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), which again, is based on the railway network. The Hon’ble Minister also spoke about redevelopment of 400 stations through the private-public partnership (PPP) model, this also offers positives for major railway stations in the zonal railways that operate in Mumbai and the MMR.
Connectivity is the basic requirement for economic growth and business development, and the proposed Bullet Train which is planned to run between two of India’s business centers, Mumbai and Ahmedabad, will enhance connectivity between the two economic powerhouses, making it easier for business driven economic growth across the High Speed Corridor. The Hiranandani Group Companies have on-going projects in both cities, Mumbai and Ahmedabad, and having worked in both cities, I can foresee the positives that a high speed rail corridor linking both would result in.
The important thing on the ‘internal connect’ aspect was the Hon’ble Minister announcing linkages of Metro networks and suburban railways with international airports, which augurs well for Mumbai and the MMR. And finally, on the ‘comfort zone’ aspect, Mumbai will finally get AC local trains. These are very progressive and welcome moves for Mumbai and the MMR, and I hope the railways will enhance connectivity between CBDs and peripheral areas, so that the dream of ‘affordable housing for the common man’ becomes a reality.
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Niranjan Hiranandani is Founder & MD, Hiranandani Group. His recent initiative is Hiranandani Communities. He is the Founder and First President (West), National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO), which works under the aegis of Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India.