Kolkata Metro to seek ASI nod to lay tracks

Kolkata (KOAA): The Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC) will seek the Archaeological Survey of India’s permission to build tracks near Currency Building, a heritage structure at BBD Bag, for the East-West Metro.

Minister of State for Urban Development Babul Supriyo said on Monday the KMRC, the implementing agency of East-West Metro, has an advanced technology to build underground tunnels that would ensure that the heritage building was not damaged.

The state government has proposed a change in the route of East-West Metro’s phase II from Sealdah to Howrah Maidan. But in the proposed realignment, the KMRC would need clearance from the ASI and the defence ministry. The proposed Esplanade station would come up on army land.

“The KMRC is sending a proposal to the ASI…. The tracks will pass within 40m of the structure,” the minister said. He was speaking at an interactive session on “Federal structure is the key to faster urban growth in India”, organised by MCC Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Calcutta.

A KMRC official said the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act says there cannot be any construction within 100m of a heritage structure.

But the KMRC will use tunnel-boring machines that make keyholes on the surface for the equipment to go underground for digging the tunnel. The cut-and-cover technology used in the past dug up a larger surface, an engineer said.

The KMRC has written to the army, requesting for about 5,000sq m land at Esplanade to build a station.

Babul Supriyo said the Centre had in principle agreed with the state government’s realignment proposal. “But the clearances are required,” he said.

The minister said the cost of the project, which was originally around Rs 5,000 crore, has gone up by 1.7 times because of the delay.

Work in the second phase has been stalled for more than four years because the government has refused to shift settlers from Bowbazar and hawkers on Brabourne Road.

Work in the first phase, between Salt Lake’s Sector V and Sealdah, had been stalled for four years because of settlers in Duttabad. The problem was recently resolved after Mamata Banerjee intervened following a request from Babul Supriyo. “My talks have borne fruit. I would like to thank the state government,” he said.

Laying of tracks has started in Duttabad and the revised deadline for the project to become operational is June 2018. “But we have to make it operational by December 2017,” the minister said.