Overhead light rail transit (LRT), a dream project of West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya to overhaul the city's transportation system, might ride to its destination with industrialist Anil Ambani.
A city daily on Saturday reported that Ambani has sent a formal proposal to the government expressing its desire to implement the Rs.24 billion ($5 billion) project on a build-operate-transfer basis.
Sources in the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) also confirmed that Ambani would also visit the city next week to discuss the project along with other projects of the Anil Ambani group in Bengal.
Bhattacharya has already held a meeting with chief secretary Amit Kiran Deb and Sudhanshu Sekhar Chakraborty, the managing director of Consulting Engineering Services (CES), which has been engaged by the government to oversee the project, to discuss the proposal.
Confirming the news, Deb said: "We have received the proposal, along with a draft of a memorandum of understanding (MoU), from the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group."
"The government has in principle agreed to Ambani's plan but it wants some clauses to be included so that our interests are protected," he said.
Ambani had met the chief minister in June and expressed his interest in the project, which will stretch across the city from Joka in extreme south through downtown Esplanade to Panihati near Dunlop in extreme north.
The trains will run on tracks 22 feet above the ground.
"Anil is extremely keen on the LRT project but he wants the government to nominate his company to do it," the daily reported quoting unnamed sources.
Bhattacharya, sources said, wants to ensure that the MoU has some provisions to allow the government to have the final say on the technology to be used, the route through which the LRT would run and the fare structure.
The project has other bidders too.