Kolkata metro rail project loses its way in political quagmire

| Updated on: Jan 31, 2014

Problems over land acquisitions for some station buildings and a car-shed still persist.

A 17-km and ₹2,619 metro rail project in Kolkata, proposed to connect Joka near IIM Calcutta with the business district, has lost its way in the seeing political quagmire.

A pet project of Mamata Banerjee, former Railway Minister, it whistled off on September 22 in 2010. Then the promise was to complete it by 2014-15. No hurdle was seen on the way.

The proposed rail route, largely covering the then Railway Minister’s Parliamentary constituency, was to be on the “proposed” national highway on the Diamond Harbour Road on an elevated track linking IIM, Calcutta and Writers’ Buildings.

In September 2012, Mamata left the UPA Government after entering Writers’ Buildings riding a ‘change’-vehicle in the Assembly elections. Problems popped up since the original elevated track passing through land areas were owned by the Union Defence and Finance Ministries.

The construction work progressing a 9-km stretch from Joka stumbled on to objections from the Ministries and could not move an inch in the past two years.

The Finance Ministry offered a “solution” of underground track, which railway found not practicable.

A study report on the underground track, which went against the suggestion, was submitted to both the Ministries. Problems over land acquisitions for some station buildings and a car-shed still persist.

“We have not received permission from both Finance and Defence Ministries even after almost one-and-a-half years,” a senior official involved with the project told Business Line .

A recent meeting between West Bengal Chief Secretary and railway officials could not remove the stumbling blocks, according to the official.

One of the major Kolkata-based contractors working on the project had recently said an indefinite delay in execution of the metro line was only escalating costs.

Interestingly, the budgetary allocation for the project in 2013-14 was reduced by more than 90 per cent to Rs 45 crore (Rs 600 crore in 2012-13).

Questions on how could such a route plan be designed despite the existence of Mint and Defence establishments on the way remains unanswered.

Published on November 25, 2017

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