Reliance Retail, Pantaloon, RPG and Sunil Mittal owned Bharati, which recently signed a partnership agreement with the world’s biggest retailer Walmart, are some of the top business houses that are vying to exploit the 44,000 hectares of surplus Railway land for retail, reports PTI. This land under the control of the Rail Ministry is lying vacant across the country.
According to Ministry sources, the said initiatives from corporate houses, have come after the Railway Minister Lalu Prasad’s announcement that the surplus land would be made available for commercial purposes under Public-Private-Partnership. As reported earlier, retail business could benefit immensely by exploiting the assets owned by the Railways including using the vacant land for building budget hotels, cold storage, warehouses and farm outlets.
Railway Ministry is desirous to set up over 7,500 farm outlets at Railway Stations across the country, which will benefit farmers as they would be able to sell their products close to their fields. Railway’s vacant land could also be exploited for growing a wide range of food products, particularly horticulture products.
All of the multi brand retail majors like Reliance, RPG, ITC and Bharati have plans to provide farm fresh products to consumers at affordable prices as well as to offer better prices to farmers by eliminating the role of intermediaries and reducing wastage of parishables by setting up efficient collection centres and cold chain. Railways could become a major catalyst in achieving these objectives.
While Reliance Retail Ltd has an ambitious plans to provide fresh food and vegetables in its outlets, Railway’s surplus land could provide an opportunity to grow a wide variety of food products.