METRO TAKES DECISION DUE TO LAND HURDLE; SENDS MODIFIED PROPOSAL TO RAILWAY BOARD
By bappaditya paul
Kolkata Metro Railway authorities have approached the Railway Board to truncate the Noapara-Barasat Metro corridor at the city airport as the project is making little progress due to land hurdle at the Barasat-end.The move comes a year after the Metro authorities foreclosed or cancelled the two work-orders that it had issued to L&T for laying a 5.7 km Metro track between the Airport and Barasat owing to encroachments on the proposed alignment. This was part of the 18.13-km Noapara-Barasat Metro corridor sanctioned in 2010-11 at an estimated cost that now stands at Rs 2,582.55-crore.
According to sources, Metro Railway has written to the Railway Board early in May with a modified plan to construct a 1.7 km underground Metro line in the airport premise, as they do not see the possibility of any headway in the project beyond the airport.
“In the original plan for Noapara-Barasat Metro corridor, there is the provision for a 5.6 km underground route in and around the airport. But since encroachment on railway land is not allowing progress on the full stretch, we have urged the Board to allow us to terminate the route at the airport itself, which can be achieved by constructing a 1.7 km underground track instead,” said a senior Metro Railway official. “Work on the stretch between Airport and Barasat can be taken up later if we get the land in future.”
The modified plan will necessitate augmenting the infrastructure of the Metro car-shed at Noapara to park additional rakes for running trains up to the airport. Originally, the plan was to construct a car-shed at Barasat to park and feed Metro rakes for the entire route.
“The Board is empowered to approve the modified plan as this is an already sanctioned project and there is no need to take this through the Rail Budget route. We are hoping that the Board will give us a go ahead soon,” another Metro officer said.But even if the Railway Board approves the modified plan, it will not be all clear for the near 6 km Metro route from Noapara to the airport. There are around 800 encroachers sitting on railway land along the proposed alignment near Dum Dum Cantonment and Jessop-siding.
Till now, Metro authorities have been carrying forward construction work for the elevated portion on the route where the land is encroachment-free.
(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report first appeared in The Statesman on 11 June 2014.)