Kolkata Metro consents to New Alignment but points out problems

E-W MetroKolkata: The implementing agency for the stalled East-West Metro project told Calcutta High Court on Wednesday that it had no objection to the alternative route alignment proposed by the state government but there were hurdles to be crossed while going down that road.

If the alternative alignment were to be adopted, the project would need no-objection certificates from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Indian Army, Calcutta Port Trust and the CESC, said additional solicitor-general Kaushik Chanda, representing the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC).

Chanda submitted in court a letter on behalf of the KMRC and said: “My client has no objection to the realignment of route. But the central government would have to disburse the Rs 764 crore needed for a new alignment. My client has started the process of getting funds.”

He also suggested that infrastructure company Afcons be asked to start work “in the meantime”.

Afcons, a part of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, had filed a petition in the high court saying it didn’t have access to the required sites to start work.

Justice Dipankar Datta responded to Chanda’s suggestion by asking what would happen if additional funds weren’t released on time or no-objection certificates couldn’t be obtained after construction started. The additional solicitor-general said sticking to the old alignment was the solution.

“But how? This government is in favour of hawkers and had told this court that it was against their eviction. In the old alignment, removal of hawkers from Bowbazar and Brabourne Road is the main issue,” Justice Datta said.

Advocate Subir Sanyal, representing the CESC, said shifting underground cables in BBD Bag would pose technical and logistical challenges. “The underground cables in the BBD Bag area supply power to three-fourths of Calcutta. For the realignment, these cables would have to be shifted and a site in the adjacent area is required,” he pointed out.

Clearance is required from the army, the custodian of the Maidan, to build the proposed Esplanade station. The ASI’s permission is needed to build tracks near three heritage structures.

“These problems can be amicably settled only through meetings,” Justice Datta said.

One such meeting is slated for August 17.