Babul to put East-West Metro on track
Union minister of state Babul Supriyo said that he is ready to speak to chief minister Mamata Banerjee to solve the impasse which is holding up the construction of the East-West Metro corridor at Duttabad in Salt Lake."Just 60 families living in a stretch of 365 metres can’t hold up such a large project. It is just a small dot on the entire Metro corridor and has to be solved," he said after holding talks with the Duttabad families on Tuesday. Work on the project that aims to connect Salt Lake Sector V with Howrah Maidan has got stuck in land knots at Bowbazar, BBD Bag and Duttabad.
The blueprint has 13 piers along a 365-metre stretch in Salt Lake’s Duttabad for the elevated corridor between Bengal Chemicals and City Centre Salt Lake. Work hasn’t started so far because the state government is unable to relocate the 60-odd families who have refused to vacate that stretch. The families refused to relocate even after the KMRC built shelters for them.
“When I first moved to Mumbai I lived in an even smaller flat. You will have to start with smaller things. Only then can you move on,” Supriyo told the family members after spending nearly two hours with them. He also took a list of the landlords and tenants living in that stretch.
Later the minister held a highlevel meeting with officers of the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation and discussed about the possible solutions. “I am a half-minister (read minister of state). The chief minister could have some reservations in meeting me. I don’t think that to solve this small impasse we require the chief minister’s intervention. But if need arises I am ready to speak with her,” he added. It may be recalled that in November when Supriyo had come to Kolkata and tried to meet officers and state urban development minister to discuss JNNURM projects he was denied an appointment.
The unfinished job in Duttabad held up the construction of 5.77-km elevated part of the 14.58km corridor between Howrah Maidan and Nabadiganta Township. The delay pushed up the construction cost (initially pegged at Rs. 5,000 crore) substantially even after 75% of the elevated portion was completed on time.
Sources said that Supriyo is also likely to hold another meeting with KMRC officials to take a stock of the problem that is holding up the East-West Metro Project in Bowbazar and BBD Bag areas. The state government had transferred its stake in the project to the railways in November 2012, its sudden lack of interest being the result of Trinamool Congress pulling out of the UPA government. The Indian Railways now have a 74 per cent stake in the project and the Union urban development ministry holds the rest.