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Construction : Interaction | September 2018 | Source : CW-India

Railway station development is an area that needs to be focussed upon, says Rajeev Mehrotra, CMD, RITES

The first state-run railway company to launch an IPO, RITES is a leading player in transport, consultancy and engineering in India. In 44 years since its inception, the company has undertaken projects in over 55 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, South America and the Middle East.

A wholly-owned government company, it offers a comprehensive range of services across major market segments in the transport infrastructure sector. As on March 2018, the company's total order book stood at Rs 48,187 million, about 76.8 per cent of which comes from Central and state government works. Rajeev Mehrotra, Chairman & Managing Director, RITES, shared more at the time of the company's IPO launch in June with SHRIYAL SETHUMADHAVAN.

Your plans include acquiring a 25 per cent stake in the redevelopment plan of the IRSDC. How many stations will come under RITES?
While they are targeting about 600 stations, the most viable ones will be taken up first, as this is going to be funded with equity and loans. This area has a lot of scope and huge commercial value. So, more needs to be done in terms of attracting investors; one way could be by increasing the lease period. This is under consideration.

Any investment model planned for redevelopment of these stations?
Some consultants are working on the business plan. I believe that station development is an area that needs to be focused upon.

Also, we are speaking about Rs.1 trillion worth of investment in redevelopment. When can we expect to see this taking off?
Sometimes, doing the ground work takes longer than usual. However, we need to push it and make it more acceptable for long-term investors.

You are also working on the high speed rail...
We are involved in the initial feasibility stage of Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Pune, part of which has been picked up. Mumbai-Pune has been left out because of heavy investments in tunnels. As we have never executed projects of this scale in India, we have tied up with a French consultancy firm, Systra, which is like a PSU of the French Government. So, the flexibility of choosing consultants to deliver if you are not adequately equipped is one that the government uses in the cases we deliver.

You also spoke about integrated check posts (ICPs)...
We have exclusive rights to ICPs. We are working on about eight to nine ICPs at present, of which five are completed. When you go to the Wagah border, for instance, you will see a presidential house-like building on the left-hand side; we also need to bring the rail line through that, but land is not readily available. There is another interesting location near Kolkata called Petrapole and a place close to Bangladesh called Minneapolis, for which we have done the ICP. After that, there are Birgunj and Biratnagar, which are on the Nepal side, Jogbani in Bihar, and several such locations identified at the Bangladesh border and Nepal. Now, we are also looking at Bhutan.

You are eyeing the metro-rail market. Can you tell us more?
Some of these projects will definitely see the light. Consider the speed and confidence with which we have submitted the preliminary reports - it will cost a lot if you go for competition or get a foreign consultant.

The metro projects we are working on include Patna-Guwahati, Varanasi-Gwalior, Varanasi-Gorakhpur, Agra-Meerut-Kanpur and Lucknow Phase-2.

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