Kolkata Metro: Railways and Finance Ministries to sit together to sort out the issues

कोलकता Kolkata (KOAA): The Joka-BBD Bag metro promises to break the jinx that has not allowed the project work to move beyond Taratala. On May 22, two ministries — railways and finance — would sit together to sort out the issues that have prevented the metro viaduct to go by the Alipore Mint, a stately heritage building on D H Road.

The Ministry of Finance apparently agreed to give go ahead signal to the mass-transit project that promises to change the face of mass-transportation from this southern most part of the city to its heart. But before that the finance ministry needs to be satisfied about the measures to be taken by the metro to protect the security of Mint, a vital installation, a railway ministry official said.

The clearance by the Finance Ministry would do away with the biggest stumbling block for the project as far as the elevated part of the project is concerned. From Mominpore, the project alignment would go underground first to Khidderpore, Victoria, Park Street, Esplanade aligning with the old metro and then terminating at BBD Bag (Dalhousie).

The second biggest stumbling block lies with the Ministry of Defense. A major part of the alignment would pass through Maidan which is under the aegis of the ministry of defense. The Ministry of the dDefense has not yet given the required clearances for the project to pass through the Maidan.

“We are acquiring 25 hectares for the car-shed near Joka with state government sending surveyors to identify the land. We have also started the process of paying compensation to those who are giving up their land,” said a Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL) official.

Though KoPT has granted permissive possession, physical possession remains with organizations such as CESC, Mother Dairy and others. In May, 2013, KoPT had urged Metro to pay Rs.742 crore for 18,100 sq m land on a 99-year lease. In November, 2012, Metro wrote back saying that it was keen on a 30-year lease. KoPT agreed to Rs.21.23 crore. RVNL is now all set to take possession of the land.

In 2011 and 2012, the Metro also wrote to the ministry of finance, seeking permission to construct a viaduct near the Alipore Mint. Mamata also wrote a letter to the ministry on this subject. Later that year, a joint inspection was also carried out after which the Metro dropped plans for a siding line, thereby reducing the land requirement.

To make matters worse, the ministry of finance wrote to the Metro in October, 2013, directing that no station be constructed within a kilometre on either side of the Mint. This would be difficult as Metro stations are normally built at a distance of 1-1.5 km. The Majerhat railway station (In the Sealdah-Budge Budge section) is located just 250 metres from the Mint. The Metro had planned to have its station over the existing building.