KOLKATA: Unless the state government decides to shake off its “nonchalant attitude” towards the Metro railway, there is no saving the city from traffic congestion which is slated to get worse with every passing year, feels minister of state for railways, Adhir Chowdhury.
He was vocal about his frustration at the slow progress of the Metro railway projects in the city and blamed the state government for the “deliberate” delay.
There are several encroachments on the Dum Dum-Barasat Metro stretch. The minister said that he had appealed to the state government for help with little success. Similarly, work on the East-West Metro is also getting delayed because of the controversy over “fresh land alignment.” The state government had suggested a change in the present alignment of the East-West Metro so that the trains could take the BBD Bag route instead of plying through Central Avenue as is the plan now. Some shopkeepers along Central Avenue, too, had gone to court against the Metro. Later, however, the state government relegated its stand and supported the Central Avenue route plan.
“The new-route-alignment challenge that the state government has thrown on us has set us back in time and money. I am frustrated a with the cost and time overrun that we are facing. Go to Delhi and see how their Metro is progressing. I had spoken with Sreedharan, the architect of Delhi Metro and he, too, is upset at the slow progress of Metro Projects in Kolkata,” said Chowdhury, adding that the He complained about the huge taxes that are regularly being slapped on the Metro by the state government. “The tax regimen is worst in this state.This apart, Chowdhury spent a lot of time on Sunday evening at the grievance-redressal cell that he has started at the Sealdah station. He held an open durbar and listened to public grievances. At least 100 people, mostly commoners and some Congress trade union leaders, had come to meet Chowdhury with their problems. Take the case of Gopal Dolui, who represented the betel leaf growers of Mecheda and pleaded for an extra compartment to be reserved in some local trains for ferrying betel leaves. “This will benefit at least 400,000 farmers of the zone,” he explained to the minister.
Another plea was for a level crossing on the Habra-Ashokenagar route. Women complained about the lack of security on local trains on the Sealdah section. He listened to these complains and took notes, promising to get back to the complainants soon. The minister also received complaints about lack of clean drinking water and toilets at Metro stations. “We might build facilities on the surface. Let me plan,” he assured.
Chowdhury expressed his concern about the growing pressure on local trains and said that there was little room for increasing trains anymore.
“So we are trying to increase the number of compartments wherever possible. In many places the stations are such that they cannot accomodate extra rakes!” he explained.