Kolkata: Esplanade Station of East-West metro corridor, which will be junction of three metro alignments, got go ahead signal from Army. This is a crucial breakthrough for the alignment as army is the custodian of the entire Maidan area, known as city’s lung. No construction is allowed anymore in Maidan area, except some mass-transit projects like metro which benefits a large number of people.
The Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC) has waited more than a year for the requisite permissions since the deadline for the second phase of the project was revised to mid-2019. At Esplanade, East-west will be most crucial platform 30 meter below the ground which will merge here with existing Dum Dum-Tollygunge stretch of the north-south Metro under 16-17m underground.
It has been nearly a year since Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation applied to Bengal area of the Army for land at Curzon Park in Esplanade for the underground construction. Bengal which has a major tram depot on the land readily agreed to part with the required land for the metro construction.
Railway Board had written to the defence ministry thrice in the past few months, requesting possession of land. The state government too dashed off a reminder last month but for long there was no response from the ministry. The army says it has forwarded the proposal for land at Curzon Park to the defence ministry with positive recommendation and has no further role to play in the process.
The clearance is a crucial breather for the metro that has already ran a huge time overrun resulting into one and half times cost overrun. The 14.67 km rapid transit link was originally supposed to be completed in 2013-14. But since then the deadline has been revised several times, with government proposing alternative alignment. Instead of taking the Central (Bowbazar) and Mahakaran (on Brabourne Road), the state proposed Esplanade and Mahakaran (on the east bank of Lal Dighi). Finally ministry of railway agreed to this change of alignment. The revised length of the corridor is now 16.55 km.
The revised deadline for the second phase of the project between Sealdah and Howrah is August 2019, which we will now strive hard to meet with land being made available to us, said a KMRC official. The layout for Esplanade station is 8,000sq m in size and has five levels, unlike the usual three floors. Apart from the roof, there will be three concourses and a basement. The architecture of the platform will be in tune with heritage overview of the city centre. Work has started on the Howrah Maidan side to dig a tunnel that will go under the Hooghly to reach Kolkata shortly.
Significance of the clearance
The clearance is a breather for inordinately delayed project. Without the NOC, KMRC could not take possession of the land for cut-and-cover construction Metro stations because of the depth takes a quite a long time to complete