Kolkata High Court raps West Bengal State Govt on East-West Metro

कोलकाता Kolkata (KOAA): Calcutta high court on Monday constituted a committee that will act as problem-solver for the East-West Metro project. Justice Nadira Patherya of Calcutta HC rapped on the knuckles  of the KMRC and the state govt for their failure to remove the bottlenecks in setting up the Mahakaran station on the East-West Metro route. The court, it was learnt, directed a committee comprising representatives from KMRC, state govt, KMC, police and railways be formed which would submit a report to the court on inter alia the alignment of the proposed project and the rehabilitation cost for those likely to be relocated.

The project has encountered numerous problems for the last two years. The committee, Justice Nadira Patherya ordered, will submit a report on January 13. The fate of the state’s showcase project, Metro authorities said, will hinge on this report.

The committee comprises of five officers, namely principal secretary (transport department) Alapan Bandyopadhyay, Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC) managing director A K Jha, KMRC director (projects and planning) and convenor of the committee H K Sharma, Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) joint commissioner Sristidhar Santra and Kolkata Police joint commissioner (traffic) Supratim Sarkar.

Justice Patherya made clear that the committee will see where and how to build the Mahakaran Station (Writers’ Building). The panel needs to decide if the station needs to be shifted to the south of Writers’ Buildings (changed alignment) instead of to the north of the state secretariat (original alignment), and if it does, then how to complete the job quickly. Figuring out the traffic implications against each plan falls under the committe’s purview as well.

According to the original alignment, Mahakaran station was to be built 300m north of Writers’ Buildings on Brabourne Road. But the project is yet to receive police approval as more than half of the road would be required for project. The alternative site for the station is on the south of Writers’ Building, according to the suggested alignment by the state government.

Justice Patherya asked the committee to figure out how and who would bear the additional cost of missing the deadline or for the realigned route (if the realignment becomes a reality). Calcutta high court wanted a breakthrough in the project. Justice Patherya has also asked to incorporate Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) and CESC into this committee so that issues of land on the banks of Ganges and those of essential underground utilities could be taken care of.

At 12.30pm, when KMRC counsels Partha Sarathi Bose and Raj Kumar Bose submitted a copy of the minutes of the meeting held by the stake-holders of the project, a furious Justice Patherya said she did not want minutes. She asked for a proper report.

An enraged Justice Patherya said that all these officers should quit their posts. “What did you do? Did you go back home sipping coffee and chewing cashew nuts without reaching any conclusion?” the judge asked.

KoPT counsel then informed the court that they were never approached by KMRC for requisition of land for the project. Justice Patherya slammed KMRC, saying, “You are the trouble-maker. You have had a lenient approach towards the project. You have not moved an inch since the last hearing. I want every officer who had attended the meeting in this court by 2pm.”

Additional advocate general (AAG) Lakshmi Gupta said that it would be convenient if Justic Patherya rescheduled the appearance for Tuesday morning. But Justice Patherya asked AAG to accompany her to the KMRC office and Nabanna instead.

“I will take you to KMRC office and Nabanna and we will come back before 2pm. I want all of them in the court.,” Justice Patherya reiterated. Subsequently, when all officials of KMRC, transport department, KMC, KoPT came to court, Justice Patherya held an in-camera closed door session with them.