Work on the Metro Rail expansion project on the city’s southern fringe is progressing at a snail’s pace. Transport minister Subhas Chakraborty told the Assembly on Monday that the progress rate of work on the Metro extension scheme up to Garia was only 15 per cent and the project was likely to be completed by 2006.
“Though it is estimated that work will be finished by 2006, I don’t think the project will be ready within the stipulated period,” Chakraborty said while replying to a question by Abu Ayesh Mandal of the CPM.
Chakraborty said the state government had given Rs 41 crore to the Metro Railway authorities during the current financial year for expanding the network up to Garia.
“A sum of Rs 30 crore is also ready with the government and we can hand it over to the Metro authorities any time,” he added.
According to the minister, the actual cost of the expansion project will cross the Rs 953-crore target, estimated a couple of years ago, because of the slow progress of work. The government is ready to cooperate with the railway ministry in completing the eight-km stretch between Tollygunge and Garia as early as possible, he added.
Chakraborty said his government would also adopt all possible measures to acquire land for the construction of approach roads to Metro Rail stations between Tollygunge and Garia. The government will shoulder the expenses for the construction work, he added.
Nirmal Ghosh of the Trinamul Congress wanted to know from Chakraborty whether the state government had urged the Centre to extend Metro Rail services up to Barrackpore, in North 24-Parganas, to help a number of people commuting to Calcutta daily.
Chakraborty said the state government had selected a site at Sodepur, in North 24-Parganas, for the railway’s expansion plan.
“As far as I know, the railway ministry does not have any plans to extend Metro Rail up to Barrackpore. But our plan to urge the Centre for the railway’s expansion programme is at the preliminary level, too. The matter is not under the consideration of the railway ministry,” he explained.
Several Trinamul Congress MLAs expressed concern over Metro Railway’s plan to expand its network up to Garia by laying tracks on Tolly’s Nullah. According to them, the move will affect the area’s sewerage system. It is learnt that the Metro Railway plans to lay tracks by erecting concrete pillars on Tolly’s Nullah.