CRB visits country’s first underwater tunnel project

Funds won’t come in the way of East-West Metro completion; says A.K.Mital

KOLKATA: Railway Board chairman A K Mital today visited the country’s first underwater tunnel project across River Hooghly, which will provide metro railway connectivity between Howrah and Kolkata.

“Construction work of the tunnel, which was recently completed, was reviewed by the Railway Board chairman,” general manager (administration) of Kolkata Metro Railway Corporation Ltd (KMRCL), said.

India joined a select band of nations on completion of the tunnel, which is a crucial link for the 16.4 km-long mass rapid transport project being constructed by KMRCL at an estimated cost of around Rs 9,000 crore.

The metropolis got the first metro railway in the country in 1984.

Mital earlier reviewed the performance of Eastern Railway, South Eastern Railway, Metro Railway and KMRC, all of which are headquartered here, at a high level meeting with general managers of Eastern, South Eastern and Metro Railways.

The Railway Board chairman reviewed the performance of these railways in respect of passenger carrying, freight loading, cleanliness, safety and punctuality, a senior railway official said.

Later, addressing the general managers and all officers of Eastern, South Eastern and Metro Railways, Mital advised railwaymen to always display devotion to their duties and keep up their hard work at the time of crisis situation like accident and derailment, the official said.

He said that shortage of funds would never come in the way of the project and it would not miss any more deadlines. “Funds will never be a problem for the project. I understand there has been some cost escalations since the onset of the project, but the increased cost will be taken care of and the funds would not be a problem,” said Mittal, who walked along the tracks of the 520m-long tunnels.

Sources said the railway minister and the chairman of the finance commission will also visit the project site sometime next month. On being asked if JICA, which is providing 46% of the project cost, is ready to pay the extra money after cost escalation, Mittal said: “We will try to make them understand the reasons behind the delay and the cost escalation. But in any case, funds won’t hinder this particular project.”

Mittal said he was satisfied with the development and was confident that the first phase of the servicewould be operational by June 2018. “By 2020, the entire route will be complete and trains will start moving.”