Squatters hold up Kolkata Metro link

Kolkata: Barely 400-450 encroachers, that too on land owned by the railways or the government, are holding up a project that will not only benefit thousands of people but lead to development along the city’s northern fringes. This is what the Metro Railway will discuss with state government officials at a meeting next week.

“These encroachments on the alignment between Noapara and Dakshineswar are turning out to be the greatest hurdle for the project. Actually, this project is the easiest to complete. From the day the encroachments are removed, we will require barely two years to complete the project. We shall discuss this matter with the state government next week. Work has started at the Dakshineswar-end. In fact, we have started work wherever land is available,” Metro General Manager Radhey Shyam told.

The problem with the stretch between Noapara and Dum Dum Cantonment is the same. According to Shyam, there are about 800 encroachers between Noapara and Dum Dum Cantonment. There are an additional 31 squatters close to Jessop Siding. According to him, the stretch to the airport will also be completed as soon as this problem is taken care of.

“Encroachment is the only problem along these stretches. What makes it worse is that these people are squatting on government land. We are not trying to acquire private land. We should at least be allowed to construct the pillars. It is a known fact that the encroachers will return to the spot once construction is completed. We are also holding out hope that the committee set up to decide on the use of land belonging to the ministries of finance and defence for the Joka-BBD Bag stretch will find a solution to the problem. There is a severe crisis near the Alipore Mint due to the two flyovers. We can’t carry out construction unless we are granted some land by the Mint. We are also facing trouble acquiring land for the car shed at Joka. It is time that people start cooperating, considering the larger public interest,” Shyam said.

According to the GM, several measures have been taken to improve the quality of services. A special security drive has been undertaken and Metro officials have requested Kolkata Police to be alert. More equipment for the Integrated Security System (ISS) is coming in and it is likely to be in place before Durga Puja.

“The GSM-R technology will also be in place by August. This is primarily meant for better communication between train staff, the stations and the control room. However, we shall lease out any spare capacity that we may have to private agencies. They may use this to offer mobile services to commuters inside the tunnel. Our Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS) should also be in place by December,” he said.