The East-West corridor of Kolkata Metro rail -- India's first underwater transport project -- might face delay and fresh planning as Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has 'sought details' about various aspect of the project.
The ambitious project of the urban development ministry, pegged at Rs 4,676 crore (Rs 46.76 billion), was originally scheduled to be completed in 2015. It is to be executed through a joint venture company of the central and state government. Equity participation of the state and central government will be on a 50:50 basis.
But soon after taking charge of the railway ministry, Banerjee had a talk with Union Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy about her apprehensions. The urban development ministry is now busy preparing a 'note' for Banerjee with all the details of the project.
"Only after receiving the details, we can think about implementing the project," Saugata Roy, Trinamool Congress MP and minister of state in the urban development ministry, told Business Standard on Thursday.
Roy, however, emphasised that neither his party nor his leader Banerjee is not against the project. "But the political situation in the state has changed after the project was approved. We are in the dark about the details of the project. We have to see the details of the project," he said.
In June 2008, the previous UPA Cabinet had approved the project to link Kolkata's neighbouring Howrah district with the electronic hub at Salt Lake, a suburb of Kolkata. It would cover a length of 13.77 km -- 8 km under ground and 5.77 km elevated on the standard gauge.
'The project will be completed in six and a half years, in two stages. The first stage of 5.77 km elevated section would be commissioned in five and a half years,' the Cabinet note said.
Apart from other issues, the Trinamool Congress leadership -- which fought a fierce political battle against the ruling Left Front over land acquisition in Bengal -- wants a comprehensible solution for rehabilitation of the affected people.
"The issue of rehabilitation is very important. In all the areas involving the project, the MPs belong to the Trinamool Congress. Along the proposed metro corridor, there are many business establishments of small-time traders," Roy added.
The proposed corridor would cross the Hooghly river 32 metres below the water level, covering a stretch of 900 metres under the water bed on way to the terminal station at Howrah Maidan.
The Empowered Group of Ministers on Mass Rapid Transit System, chaired by then External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, had approved the extension of the project from Howrah station to Howrah Maidan last year. This extension would incur an additional expenditure of Rs 198 crore (Rs 1.98 billion).
About 3,000 people are expected to get employment during the construction period and 750 will get direct jobs after it starts operation.