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Mayor blocks revival of flyover work

A fresh pitch by the transport department to construct the Vivekananda Road flyover, connecting Girish Park and Howrah Bridge, has run into rough weather, with mayor Subrata Mukherjee making it clear that he will not allow anybody to erect any bridge over any road owned by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC).

The mayor’s declaration spurred transport minister Subhas Chakraborty to assert on Tuesday that the CMC had nothing to do with any government project and policy. The adamant minister said work on the flyover would start from next month.

Trouble erupted after the transport wing initiated a fresh agreement last week with a private party — a consortium of Srei, Srishti and Cleveland — that will construct the bridge on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis. It will be the first flyover in the city to be built on a BOT basis.

Transport department officials said the mayor, on hearing of the fresh agreement, conveyed his objection to Chakraborty. His main demand, according to the officials, is that the CMC be involved in the project.

The Rs 20-crore flyover project has run into hurdles since its inception in 2000. The Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation (TIDC) prepared the draft project, to be implemented by the private party on a BOT basis. The move was aimed at reducing traffic chaos in the Burrabazar area and give commuters easier access to Howrah station. As per the plan, the flyover will start near the crossing of Girish Park and Chittaranjan Avenue and terminate off the Brabourne Road flyover via BK Pal Avenue, Malapara and Posta. According to the agreement, the private party will invest the entire project cost and collect the funds by selling space under and over the bridge.

Soon after adoption of the plan, the mayor had raised his demand for the rights to the stalls to be built under the flyover. His argument was that as the road is owned by the CMC, any structure on it must be the property of the civic body. The project was stalled after a war of words between the transport department and the CMC.

Minister Chakraborty initiated a fresh move last month to revive the project after a few modifications. On his instruction, the transport department drew up a fresh agreement with the flyover builders.

In the new plan, the proposal for stalls under the flyover was scrapped. It was decided to keep the space open for small and medium vehicles. In exchange, the builders will be given about 65,000 ft in any prime location in the city, where they can build a complex for commercial use. Officials said the row with the CMC cropped up over these spaces under the flyover. As its location is in the prime area of Burrabazar, crores can be raised by selling the spaces under the flyover. The mayor wanted to cash in on the opportunity.

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