Kolkata’s East-West Metro Project fails to gather steam as govt bodies bicker

KOLKATA: While the Bengal government and the UPA-run railway ministry pass the buck on each other for “hampering” the country’s first underground mass transit system, a crucial part of the project is already behind schedule thanks to encroachment by two state government departments.
km2The plush, state-of-the-art depot for the East-West Metro project was supposed to have been completed by February, 2013. Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC) has now set a fresh deadline: April, 2014. But that is only if the two government departments, public health engineering (PHE) and urban development vacate the place. Or else, more delay.

PHE and the urban development departments have barricaded about 40 % of the land allocated to KMRC for setting up its depot. They have dumped waste here and repeated pleas by KMRC have yielded no result.

On July 7, 2010, 38.5 acres with Central Park (diagonally opposite City Centre) was handed over to KMRC, the special purpose vehicle (SPV) executing the project.

The depot is a crucial part of the East-West Metro project since this is where the rakes will be housed and the trains fine-tuned and supervised to make the Metro run every day. The spacious depot has parking space to accommodate 15 trains, with six coaches each. The depot would be equipped with advanced fire-fighting system.

Professionals will be hired to undertake maintenance of the rakes, and the place will be dotted with remote control and rail safety system. The construction of the fork where trains will be accessing from either side would, therefore, need to be flawless. “It is imperative that the entire land is handed over to us as soon as possible,” said an official.

The environment-friendly depot will have an administrative building with an operation control centre, a depot store building, a control workshop, a starting line and a yard. The control centre will help operate the trains and the station system will check individual on board train systems, along with the safety of the stations systems, such as air-conditioning, security, safety, sound system and the sophisticated electronic subsystems and other workshops for washing and cleaning of trains.

State urban development secretary Debashis Sen said, “We have informed the East-West Metro authorities that they can shift any material that comes in their way.” But neither PHE minister Subrata Mukherjee nor his principal secretary Sourav Das were available for comment.