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Infra projects in Kolkata facing numerous hurdles

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on November 21, 2017 Published on May 12, 2013

Land, clearances, funds shortage delaying at least 7 key projects

Hasty planning, land acquisition hurdles, delay in clearances and last but not the least, funds crunch are set to be a bane to the on-going infrastructure projects in Kolkata . Rolled out between 2006 and 2011, at least seven key projects worth over Rs 14,000 crore are now stuck midway or have been inordinately delayed.

While at least five metro rail projects are in limbo, two major flyover projects executed by a State government organisation — the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority — have been hit.

Talking a cue from lower utilisation of funds, the budget allocation for the 85-km metro rail capacity addition programme by Indian Railways has been brought down to the bare minimum of Rs 475 crore in 2013-14. The projects were allocated Rs 6,000 crore in 2011-12 and Rs 4,000 crore in 2012-13.

Another 15-km Metro Rail project, East-West Metro, executed by a joint venture of Indian Railways and the Union Urban Development Ministry has already suffered a cost escalation and is stuck midway.

The Rs 5,000-crore East-West Metro project – that promised to connect the central business district with the IT hub in Salt Lake — has become a victim of the West Bengal Government’s opposition to acquire a small patch of land at the heart of the city.

Railway Projects

While the State Government proposes a re-alignment of the route (of nearly 2 km), the lending agency, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), has rejected the proposal. Work is now on in a truncated 10-km stretch. The story is not much different for four other projects executed by the Indian Railways. Construction of the proposed Rs 2,900 crore Joka-BBD Bag link (nearly 17 km) has come to a standstill after laying a 7-km long elevated track from Joka.

This time the issue has been obtaining clearances for a 3 km-stretch between Victoria Memorial and Maidan for building underground stations and out-gates. Sources blame hasty project planning for the debacle.

In yet another instance, work on the Rs 4,300-crore New Garia- Dum Dum railway line (connecting a 32 km stretch between the southern and northern fringes) has been slow moving. The Railways need to obtain a no-objection-certificate from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to have an underground track for just 700 metres. While unofficially the AAI is said to have cleared it, a written approval is still pending.

Similarly, a stretch of the proposed Dum Dum-Barasaat Metro-link (through the Airport) has been in limbo with the private contractor deciding to stop work for non availability of land. Though the land in question belongs to railways, the State Government has refused to remove encroachers.

Airport connectivity

Radhey Shyam, General Manager, Metro Railway, Kolkata, confirmed that work on several of the Railway projects have come a standstill on various issues. “We are resolving the problems on a case-to-case basis. Work is on across most projects but it’s slow,” Shyam told Business Line.

If that is not all, the Dum Dum–Barrackpore metro-link, sanctioned in 2009-10, has been stuck as the city civic body has yet to allow relocation of a major water pipeline.

It is not just the Railway projects that have suffered. Two flagship flyover projects, taken up by the former Left Front Government under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) to ensure easy movement of airport bound vehicles are inordinately delayed leading to huge cost escalations.

The Rs 300 crore–odd 4.6-km Prama Island flyover, expected to ease traffic movement between the eastern part of the city and Central Business District, has alone witnessed Rs 220 crore cost escalation.

With the State Government refusing to shoulder the burden, the project has practically come to a standstill after completion of nearly two-thirds of the work.

> abhishek.l@thehindu.co.in

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Published on May 12, 2013
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