Calcutta was the first city in the country to have the underground Metro railway service. And now Kolkata is all set to become the first city in India to have the underwater Metro rail connection across River Hooghly. It will be just like the tunnel service under the English Channel that connects Dover in England with Calais in France.
The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) is going to give the final presentation for the nation's first underwater Metro - connecting the east and west banks of the Hooghly in Kolkata on April 18.
Industries and Commerce Minister Nirupam Sen, Transport minister Subhas Chakrabarty, Chief Secretary Amit Kiran Deb and Transport Secretary Sumantra Chowdhury would attend the JBIC presentation. After the presentation, the report would be sent to Delhi for the final nod.
West Bengal State government requested the Delhi Metro rail Corporation to prepare the 'Detailed Project Report' of the underwater Metro service. After some minor changes, the JBIC has prepared the master plan that would be presented next month.
It is learnt that around nine-km stretch of the Metro service connecting Salt Lake with Ramrajatola in Howrah would pass below the Hooghly River. The new Metro extension would cover 19 km and would pass under the river thorough a tunnel, similar to the one under the English Channel.
"The underwater Metro was first thought of when the Metro service was inaugurated by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi here in 1984. But due to lack of funds the project was stalled. However, now the JBIC has agreed to fund the underwater Metro project," said a senior transport department official.
Sources said, the Salt Lake to Ramrajatola, passing underwater, would cost Rs 4,500 crore. And the JBIC has agreed to fund 75 per cent of the project cost and the State government would arrange the rest. Once the Centre clears the Detailed Project Report, the executor of the project would be selected.
However, it is learnt that a Japanese consultant is likely to execute the project that would be completed in 36 months using most advanced technology. Plying through the Central Business District, the new extension of Metro would largely cater to the office-goers of the city.
The proposed 19 km Metro stretch would have 18 stations. Some of these stations from the Salt Lake end are: New Town, Central Park, City Centre, Salt Lake stadium, Narkeldanga Main Road, Phoolbagan, Sealdah Station, BB Ganguly Street, BBD Bag, Jagannath Ghat, Howrah Station and Howrah Maidan.
According to the Detailed Project Report, the Metro would run on elevated tracks between New Town to Phoolbagan. And between Phoolbagan to Sealdah Station it would run on the surface tracks and then it would ply underground. Between Jagannath Ghat and Howrah Station the Metro would run underwater.
Of the total Metro stations, eight would be underground and the rest on the surface. Once completed the entire distance of the new stretch would be covered by Metro rail in 45 minutes.
"Although the State government is looking for private parties to execute the project, it is learnt that the Metro is also ready to execute the East-West Corridor if the government appoints them as executor of the project," said a senior government official.
At present Metro service in the city links Dum Dum in the North 24 Parganas to Tollygunje in South Kolkata and covers a distance of 16.5 km. (EOM)