Metro surveys give locals the jitters
The much-hyped metro rail project in the city, surveys for which have started with much fanfare, seem to have put a substantial population of Ludhiana in discomfort.
As the authorities plan to acquire land in many areas of the city to construct metro routes as well as stations, residents have started feeling the heat and are opposing the project.
Most residents are not only worried about land acquisition that will start after the completion of surveys and discussions, but fear that the construction work in most areas will literally put the city "in a mess". There are many areas in the city where it is difficult even for vehicles to pass leave alone the metro rail.
There is a misconception among residents that the areas from where the metro would pass would be completely acquired. The Detailed Project Report has indicated that most of the metro track would either be elevated or underground. In such case, there would be least acquisition of land. However, the land has to be acquired for stations to be constructed for the metro. Out of the total 29-km route, 12-km stretch is proposed to be underground, while the remaining 17-km is planned to be above the ground.
There would be 27 stations that would require acquisition of land on large scale. The two corridors - North-South and East-West - would have 13 and 14 stations, respectively.
Shopkeepers, especially on Gill Road, are opposing the project on the plea that if the government was not able to complete minor construction works for years, "how would it complete the metro rail project by 2017".
Baljinder Singh, a shopkeeper on Gill Road said, "Work started by the government never gets completed in Punjab. Where work on footpaths in the city takes several years to complete, how will authorities complete the work on the metro in just five years," questioned Singh.
Another shopkeeper, Jagveer Singh, said, "Even if the government does not acquire land in the areas from where the metro has to pass, it would definitely affect people's commercial activities while the metro line is under construction. Entire Gill Road would be uprooted for the construction that would affect our business badly," he said.
Kulwinder Singh, a factory owner, said the government was not able to construct good roads for the city residents. "The idea of construction of a metro rail in a city like Ludhiana is not appreciated by many, especially those who will be affected by it," said Kulwinder.
However, a municipal corporation official associated with the metro rail project said there was a misconception that land along the entire route would be acquired. "May be some vested interests are spreading the rumours, but we will acquire land mostly in the areas where stations are to be built," the official said on request of anonymity. He added that as most of the route was either underground or elevated, "least acquisition of land would take place".