Kolkata: According to a communication issued by the Indian railways to West Bengal government needs to remove around 2,000 squatters of substantial land which was acquired for the Airport-Barasat metro of Kolkata Metro Rail Project to have any chance of completing it.
The administration had so far managed to remove close to 1,000 squatters from various Metro construction sites. But both the railways and the state government acknowledge that getting double the number of people to shift from just one stretch is a gargantuan challenge, said by a senior railway official of the state government.
Because of some technical hurdles on the construction of the 3.5 km stretch from the proposed airport metro hub till new Barrakpore the metro railway had already submitted an alternative plan to the railway board.
As now the rest of the route will be underground the encroachment would now be entailed and the expenditure will rise for about two and a half times. The estimated cost is Rs. 500-600 crore for each kilometer of underground tracks.
Earlier this entire route was being the elevated one till the airport authority of India cited technical restrictions, and they even forced the railways to make them alter their plan and make the tracks till new plan and make the tracks till new Barracpore underground.
Now, this stretch will have three stations- Birati, Michael Nagar, New Barrackpore.
A senior railway official said that “An army of 2,000 squatters between New Barrackpore and Barasat need to be shifted for the project to go ahead. Substantial land, both agricultural and residential, needs to be acquired as well. Construction can begin only after these impediments are removed”.
The railway minister Piyush Goyal was reported by metro earlier this month about the linking sanction of new projects to be ready for the availability of land in Bengal.
During a video conferencing from Delhi on June 11, Goyal said that “All projects will be taken up as and when we get the land for each project. The railways will focus on those projects and give enhanced capital to those for which land is available with the railways”.
The problems have been dogged from the starting on the Airport-Barasat project which was commissioned on January 2011.
By 2013, Larsen and Turbo won a contract of Rs. 280 crore to build a stretch of Rs. 2,397 crore project. The company on the railway-owned land between Madhyangram and Barasat wants to build overhead tracks and stations. But this work never started because 1,900 unauthorized structures were lined with stretch, which included 800 odd shops.
A senior state government official said that “Let the railways get sanction for the underground stretch first. We are ready to cooperate with them to complete the remaining portion till Barasat”.