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From Rajarhat, the Ring Rail hits the BBD Bag trail

Transport on tracks for a planned township. The government has taken up a scheme to link the Rajarhat New Town with the Circular Railway network. This will provide residents of the sprawling 3,000-hectare township with a fast and eco-friendly mode of transport to reach the central city hub at BBD Bag and its adjoining areas.

The rail link, as suggested by West Bengal Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (Hidco), will pass along the Kestopur canal and via the outer boundary of Salt Lake. Two stations will cater to Salt Lake residents, too.

Rajarhat township will have three Circular Rail stations. One will be near the Balaka housing complex and another — Lake View — will be near Rajarhat’s lake. The terminal station has been planned in the central business district of the township (see graphic). Estimated roughly at Rs 25 crore, the proposed rail link project will cover a 9.5-km stretch between Lake Town and the New Town.

Officials of Hidco, the nodal agency responsible for planning, development and implementation of the New Town, are already in talks with the railway authorities. A meeting among Hidco, railway, CMDA and transport department officials was held last Thursday. It was decided at the meeting that there would be a joint visit to the proposed site where the tracks will be laid in the first week of April.

The modalities of a feasibility study and the ground alignment will be finalised after the joint survey. Hidco officials said that the feasibility study will not take long and work is expected to begin by the end of this year.

Metro Railway is ready to execute a Rs 49.5-crore extension of the Circular Railway along a 2.5-km stretch from Ultadanga station to Lake Town. The scheme was sanctioned in last year’s budget. Work on the remaining stretch of the proposed rail link between Lake Town and Rajarhat will also be carried out by Metro Railway.

“Between Ultadanga and Lake Town, the tracks will be elevated and taken over VIP Road to touch Lake Town. We are trying to finalise the alignment of the rest of the 9.5-km stretch into the Rajarhat township. Discussions are being held with the state government agencies on this score,” said Ashok Gupta, chief engineer of Metro Railway.

Hidco managing director and special secretary of the housing department Debashis Sen said the Hidco scheme will be cheaper. “The railway link will also help people from the suburbs and the districts to reach the township and Salt Lake faster, once the new railway terminal at Chitpur, announced in this year’s railway budget, is ready,” said Sen.

Officials maintained that the rail link will ultimately cater to nearly a 1.3-million population in Salt Lake and the New Town.

According to sources, Hidco is willing to provide one-third of the project cost (approximately Rs 8 crore), while the rest will be sought from the Centre.

“It will not be difficult for us to raise Rs 8 crore. We plan to upwardly revise the costs of the flats sold to the middle-income and higher-income groups in various housing complexes constructed by us. We will, however, not revise the prices of flats sold to the economically weaker section and the lower-income group,” an official said.

Metro Rail officials have said that residents of the central part of Salt Lake will benefit more if the tracks are elevated and carried across Salt Lake, instead of the bank of the Kestopur canal. “If the tracks are laid along the canal bank, then the rail link will pass through the outer boundary of Salt Lake. However, elevated tracks will cost about Rs 477 crore, which is quite a heavy amount,” said an official.

nChemists’ bandh call: The All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists has called a countrywide bandh on March 25 to protest the new VAT laws, announced by the finance minister, which will be implemented from April 1. A release from the Association said that a more “simplified manner” of taxation would have proved beneficial to both the government and traders.

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