The East West Metro — connecting Salt Lake Sector V to Howrah through the central business district — is already running behind schedule by 600-odd days or so. And now, a plan floated by the state transport department to realign the existing route of the East West Metro — to make it pass through Subodh Mullick Square and Esplanade before routing it to Howrah — has put question marks on its timely completion. Perhaps worse is the possibility of cost escalation. The new proposal involves an additional 1.7km, and the project with a sanctioned cost of Rs 4,874 crore will certainly increase and take more time, feel officials.
Phase I of the project — from Salt Lake Sector V to Sealdah — was to be completed by October 2013. But going by the progress of work, it will now be completed by March 2015, if everything goes according to plan. The rest of the project, scheduled to be completed in 2015-end, will get further delayed if the route is changed. However, the transport department authorities argue that the reworked alignment will help the passengers working in the central business district.
Kolkata Metro Railway Corporation (KMRC) officials, who want to stick to the existing route, have locked horns with the transport department over the ‘proposed realignment’ and the Union urban development ministry have been contacted to resolve the issue. A meeting has been scheduled on June 30 at the Writers’ Buildings, at the initiation of chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
The existing route, that begins from Salt Lake Sector V, crosses Karunamoyee, Central Park, City Centre, Bengal Chemical, Salt Lake, Phoolbagan, Sealdah, Central, Mahakaran and then goes under the Hooghly to merge at Howrah and end at Howrah Maidan. However, the transport department is proposing that the stations be aligned from Sealdah to go through Subodh Mullick Square, Esplanade and Dalhousie (adjoining Laldighi) before merging into Howrah and Howrah Maidan.
J K Saha, special secretary of the state transport department, who joined the state government on deputation recently, was asked to examine the ‘merits’ of the proposed realignment. Saha, was originally part of the railways, and had worked with the CM for many years.
According to observations of the transport department, there are issues of land acquisition and rehabilitation and “it would be difficult to fix time frame” for the existing route. The main argument is that land has to be acquired in the stretch along the B B Ganguly Street for which there is opposition and that may delay the project. Also, the new route — which goes through Esplanade — will have much more office passengers and for this no acquisition is required other than a CTC land at Esplanade.
But KMRC authorities feel that this sudden change of plan could throw the project completely haywire. According to the KMRC argument, the East-West metro route is well integrated with other routes — there is integration with the northsouth Metro at Central station, suburban and long distance railways at Howrah and Sealdah stations, bus depots at Howrah and Sealdah stations, ferry services at Howrah and Karunamoyee bus terminal at Salt Lake.
Existing route: Salt Lake Sector V — Karunamoyee — Central Park — City Centre — Bengal Chemical — Salt Lake — Phoolbagan — Sealdah — Central — Mahakaran — Howrah — Howrah Maidan
[Howrah Maidan to Phoolbagan (from Subhas Sarovar point): underground, Salt Lake stadium to Salt Lake Sector V elevated]
Proposed change of route: Salt Lake Sector V — Karunamoyee — Central Park — City Centre — Bengal Chemical — Salt Lake — Phoolbagan — Sealdah — Subodh Mullick Square — Esplanade — Dalhousie (Laldighi) — Howrah — Howrah Maidan
DISTANCE Underground : 8.9 km
Elevated : 5.77 km
Total : 14.67 km
Estimated cost : Rs. 4874 crore (sanctioned cost); Escalated cost to be reassessed.
Land to be acquired : about 22.6 hectare (of which 1.08 hectare is private land)
Deadline : Phase I of the project (Sector V to Sealdah) was to be completed by October 2013. But revised date of completion: March 2015
Deadline for rest of the project : 2015 end