Stating that most of the ongoing projects have been sanctioned higher funds compared to 2017-18, Kolkata’s Metro Railway general manager Ajay Vijayvargiya, said a total of Rs 830.36 crores were allotted in the FY19 Budget, which stood at Rs 650s crore in FY18. “With regard to East West Metro, we could spend only Rs 900 crores till January 2018, out of the Rs 1,937 crores allotted for 2017-18, owing to various reasons beyond the control of Metro Railway,” he said. “The Railway Ministry has assured that funds will not be a problem for the East West Metro project,” Vijayvargiya asserted, adding that more money will be pumped in, if the available funds are exhausted.
He said that while the Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) clearance for construction under heritage buildings in the Dalhousie area came late, there was also a delay in getting approval for work in the defence-owned land in adjoining Esplanade. The East West Metro was allotted Rs 1,100 crores for 2018-19, while the outlay for 2017-18 was Rs 1,937 crores. A senior Metro Railway official said the East West project is likely to have a leftover fund of Rs 400 crores from the current outlay, which will take the total funds available for 2018-19 to Rs 1,500 crores.
The ruling Trinamool Congress and some opposition parties in West Bengal had protested the reduction in budgetary allocation for the East West Metro project, alleging that it was a deliberate act to delay it. “Work is progressing very well and the entire project is likely to be completed within two years from now,” Vijayvargiya said.
The East West Metro project of Kolkata Metro Railway Corporation Ltd (KMRCL), spanning a 16.6-km length, from Sector V in Salt Lake City to Howrah Maidan across river Hooghly, has been witness to prolonged delays for various reasons, from clearances to land acquisition issues.
Completion of construction of tunnels under river Hooghly in June 2017, was a major milestone for the project, which will have a 10.8-km underground corridor, while the rest would be elevated. The Metro GM said that passenger services from Sector V to Salt Lake Stadium, which is part of Phase I of the East West Metro, are likely to be introduced by Durga Puja this year. “Construction work from the stadium to Phoolbagan will be complete by March 2019, after which this part will be handed over to the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) for trials,” he said.
The safety trials may take another two months, following which passenger services are likely to be introduced up to Phoolbagan from Sector V. Vijayvargiya said Rs 344 crores has been allotted for the Dum Dum Airport-New Garia project in 2018-19, a hike of Rs 94 crores from the current fiscal, while the Joka-BBD Bag route has been allotted Rs 169.36 crores for the coming financial year from Rs 50 crores in 2017-18.