Mumbai: Railways grounds and stadiums open for commercial development

Shashank RaoUpdated: Tuesday, June 01, 2021, 11:38 PM IST
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The playgrounds and stadiums belonging to the Indian Railways are now open for commercial development. The Railway Ministry has asked the Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) to carry out a technical feasibility study of 15 such stadiums across the country. This also includes the ones at Parel and Mahalaxmi respectively from Mumbai.

Due to the pandemic, the Indian Railways revenues have gone south, and according to the recent budget their passenger earnings suffered losses of over Rs 38,000 crore. Now, they are looking at options to commercially develop their open playgrounds, sport complexes and stadiums. One of the reasons being that these stadiums lie unused most times of the year, and there is scope for monetizing it.

“We are looking at alternate sources of generating revenue through non-fare revenue models. We are currently looking to assess the techno-economic feasibility for commercial development of these facilities. There is no particular plan that is proposed, and it is still in a very nascent stage,” said a senior railway official.

In Mumbai, two major grounds and stadiums belonging to the Central and Western Railways, are also up for commercial development. This includes Parel Sports Complex that has an indoor stadium and cricket ground that is spread across an area of 20,000 sq.m. Since 2007, cricket practice and matches started at Parel ground that was earlier called GRP ground.

The Mahalaxmi sports complex belonging to the Western Railway, was set up in 1955 on an area of 83036 sq.m. Sources said that this includes 72426 sq.m of play area and the stadium is built on 10610 sq.m. Both these sport complexes provide facilities to sportspersons for games and sports like cricket, basketball, volleyball, football, weight lifting, water polo, pavilion for cricketers, football and basketball players. There is also an indoor stadium, staff canteen and hostel facilities for sportsmen and coaches.

The list of assets being considered by the Indian Railways for monetisation also include sports complexes at production units in Raebareli based Modern Coach Factory, Kapurthala based Rail Coach Factory, Bengaluru based Rail Wheel Factory, Varanasi based Banaras Locomotive Works (formerly DLW) and Chennai based Integral Coach Factory. Other cities include Ranchi, Gorakhpur, Patna, Lucknow, Secunderabad and Bhubaneswar.

Sources said that sporting facilities will continue here and that the railways are only assessing if they can be upgraded with more facilities for players and open them up for use by private parties also for commercial use. The Railways ministry officials have assessed that these sporting complexes remain underutilised for the major part of the year, leaving the scope for commercial utilisation.

The railways will appoint a consultant to carry out the studies and then submit a report. Private parties may also like to use these facilities for sporting purposes when Railways is not using them. Traditionally, Indian Railways has been regarded as a sporting giant in multiple disciplines. It has been a major patron of hockey, cricket and athletics.

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