Kolkata Metro: Land relief for Noapara-Barasat metro corridor

Kolkata (KOAA): Land disputes have halted infrastructure projects in the city time and again but never has the contruction work continued on a disputed land even as the warring groups battle it out in the court. In a first, the state government and a private agency (the land owner) have agreed to facilitate construction of the Noapara-Barasat Metro corridor while resolving the contentious ‘vested land’ issue legally in the court.

Most of the Metro projects across the city were announced by Mamata Banerjee when she was the Railways minister in the UPA government. Things were moving fast but the projects got stuck after Mamata walked out of the alliance and later became the chief minister. Only recently, the state government started taking measures to untangle the Metro mess. The East-West corridor and the Joka-BBD Bag lines were the first to benefit out of the state-Centre bonhomie and now, the Barasat line, it seems, has started getting its due.

The Noapara-Barasat corridor is supposed to pass through a land owned by Saregama Ltd. The state government had vested the land for construction but Saregama moved the court against it, leaving the future of the project uncertain. Recently, the state government intervened and a solution was arrived at.

“The infrastructure projects in the state hold so much of goodwill that even the corporate body agreed to bury the hatchet as far as allowing the construction of the corridor on its land is concerned. Not less than 500 square metre of land at Jessore Road with right of way will be allowed for the construction. On Monday, the land was formally handed over to the Metro authority. The court battle will take its own course in the court for resolving the issue legally,” said principal secretary (transport) Alapan Bandyopadhyay.

The transport department will now seek similar cooperation from Jessop, another corporate entity, whose land will also be required for further extension of the corridor. The district administration has been asked to look into the removal of encroachment to facilitate completion of the project. Clearing these land hurdles is most crucial as the construction will facilitate a seamless ride to the airport. This corridor will complete a circle of transit corridor with New Garia-Airport Metro also having an interface at the airport.

From Noapara to Barasat, the alignment will be elevated and pass through Ramakrishna Palli and Santinagar stations whereas the underground track will pass through DumDum Cantonment and Jessore Road before converging with other routes at the airport station. From here, both the lines will run parallel to NH 34 till the junction of Nawali Khal. The line will reach the surface near Madhyamgram station.

However, the future of the alignment beyond airport is still uncertain. The Metro Railway authorities had written to the Railway Board in May last year and requested it to modify the plan — to truncate it at airport — with no visible headway beyond the airport.

“In the original plan, there was the provision for a 5.6km underground route in and around the airport. But since encroachment on railway land is not allowing progress of the full stretch, we have urged the Board to allow us to terminate the route at airport itself, which can be achieved by constructing a 1.7km underground track instead,” said a Metro Railway official. “Work on the stretch between the airport and Barasat can be taken up later if we get the land in future,” he added.