SIX METRO EXTENSION PROJECTS IN KOLKATA MAKE LITTLE PROGRESS DUE TO LAND HURDLE AND LACK OF COOPERATION FROM STATE & CENTRAL GOVT AGENCIES
By bappaditya paul
Mumbai threw open its first Metro route last Sunday (08 June) and other cities across India are moving fast to catch up.
But even as Metro services have spread in other cities, Kolkata is literally squatting on 102.50 km Metro extension projects that have the potential to revolutionise transport facilities in the city. Ironically, Kolkata was the first in India to get a Metro system way back in 1984; its existing north-south Metro route is 27.27 km long.
The 102.50 km Metro extension in Kolkata is spread over six projects and they were sanctioned between 2008 and 2012. But even after the lapse of so many years, the projects have made little progress due to non-availability of land and lack of cooperation from different agencies of the state and Central governments.
Going by a rough estimate, till date only 26 per cent of the work has been completed and going by the complex nature of the hurdles, none of the officials involved with the projects are willing to hazard a guess as to when they will be ready.
DUM DUM – BARANAGAR:
Length: 4.50 km.
Sanction year: 2010-11.
Estimated cost: Rs 411.06 crore.
Status: 1.93 km stretch incomplete.
Reason: 319 encroachments on railway land between Noapara and Baranagar. Owing to this, a private contractor appointed by Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) backed out last year.
Way out: RVNL now looking for a new contractor and state government’s assistance to remove the encroachments.
Length: 18.13 km.
Sanction year: 2010-11.
Estimated cost: Rs 2582.55 crore.
Status: Work stalled. Two work orders issued to L&T for Airport to Barasat stretch cancelled.
Reason: 800 encroachments on railway land between Noapara and Airport and 1,884 encroachments between Airport and Barasat.
Way out: Metro Railway has written to Railway Board to truncate the route at Airport; wants state’s intervention to remove the 800 encroachments.
JOKA-BBD BAGH-DIAMOND PARK:
Length: 18.72 km.
Sanction year: 2010-11 & 2012-13.
Estimated cost: Rs 2913.51 crore.
Status: No progress beyond the construction of 7.5 km elevated portion between Joka and Majerhat.
Reason: Union Finance Ministry yet to give permission for a 300 metre stretch that will pass through Kolkata Mint premises at New Alipore. Defence Ministry yet to grant permission for a near 5 km underground stretch between Mominpur and Maidan. State government yet to complete land acquisition for a 25-acre plot at Joka needed for Metro car-shed.
Way out: Speedy NOC from Finance and Defence Ministry; proactive steps by state government for Joka land acquisition.
NEW GARIA-AIRPORT VIA RAJARHAT:
Length: 32 km.
Sanction year: 2010-11
Estimated cost: Rs 4259.50 crore.
Status: Only 35 per cent piling work complete and some pillars erected on stretch between Ruby and Patuli More on E M Bypass and in New Town.
Reason: KMC wants RVNL to pay Rs 251 crore for 20,000 square feet land for two elevated stations near Pragati Maidan police station and Bartaman Building on E M Bypass. Villagers stalling work on 150 metre stretch of land near Hidco Bhavan in Rajarhat claiming that it belongs to them.
Way out: RVNL ready to pay only a token amount to KMC on the logic that Metro is a public utility service. Hidco’s intervention to end the stalemate at Hatihara.
Length: 14.50 km.
Sanction year: 2010-11
Estimated cost: Rs 2069.60 crore.
Status: Work has not moved an inch on the Barrackpore route.
Reason: KMC yet to relocate two underground water pipelines (60” and 42” in diameter) that run along BT Road along the proposed Metro route. 1,250 encroachments on state government land beside BT Road along the proposed alignment.
Way out: Relocation of the water pipelines and removal of encroachments.
EAST-WEST (SALT LAKE-HOWRAH) CORRIDOR:
Length: 14.67 km.
Sanction year: 2008-09
Estimated cost: Rs 2,984 crore.
Status: Around 60 per cent of the elevated stretch between Salt Lake Sector V and E M Bypass complete; underground stretch between Phoolbagan and Sealdah station complete. Work stalled between Sealdah and Howrah Maidan.
Reason: The alignment between Sealdah and Writers’ Buildings yet to be finalised; some land owners at Bowbazar have moved to High Court opposing land acquisition for the Metro route. State government yet to give KMRCL a 400 square metre piece of land on Brabourne Road (near Writers’ Buildings) for the underground tunneling work up to Howrah Maidan.
Way out: Early allotment of the plot on Brabourne Road and state’s proactive role to end the legal impasse over the Bowbazar stretch.
(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report first appeared in The Statesman on 15 June 2014.)