India’s concrete makeover to include railway stations
Wide concrete roads, snaking flyovers and spanking new buildings are the face of modern India today. In fact everywhere you look there seem to be new hotels coming up, roads being built…and new shops and malls springing up. Airports are being re-furbished, and hundreds and hundreds of new apartment blocks are dotting the landscape. Its like India is having a make-over.
One thing has remained almost frozen in time though…our railway stations. They seem as disorganised as they were 10-20 years ago. Its when I walk through the crowds and the dirt here that I wonder: Will India really make it to the top five of the world’s economies by 2050?
You still see messy, unpainted walls, long slippery staircases, dirty floors and railway tracks and no sign of a decent non-smelly restroom. This inspite of our rail network being so vast, and many of our trains really very good. And considering how inexpensive it is to travel by Indian trains, well I think our trains are pretty fantastic.
However our railway stations need to improve…and they are going to! At least those who live in Pune, Mumbai, Agra, Kolkata, Lucknow, Delhi (old and new), Amritsar, Chandigarh, Patna, Varanasi, Chennai, Thiruvanthpuram, Secunderabad, Ahmedabad, Patna, Bhubaneshwar, Mathura, Bangalore, Jaipur and Bhopal have something to celebrate.
All of these stations are to become state-of-the-art they say….with food plazas, currency exchange counters, retail outlets, ATM facilities, elevators, cyber cafes and so on. Separate arrival and departure areas might also be earmarked. And all this is supposed to be done by 2010. Well, at least major stations will be finished by then – the idea is to impress visitors to the Commonwealth Games in 2010.
Both private and public sector firms will do the work in a partnership….foreign firms are mostly involved. That the government wants world-class firms to compete for the job and that it has an action plan in place is evident by this advertisement which appeared in the latest issue of The Economist – calling for proposals to develop Patna railway station.
Just New Delhi railway station will cost about Rs.50 billion and doing up all the 20 stations will take around Rs 3 trillion.
So the day is not too far when we will see our railway stations take on a new avatar…can’t help but look forward to that day…
(All pictures taken by me in Mumbai)
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