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Hooghly sand to fill Rajarhat
- Dutch firm will pump 16m cubic metres from river to New Town

The government has taken up a project to fill about 1,000 hectares of low-lying land in Rajarhat New Town with the help of a Dutch company. The project envisages dredging of Ghusuri Flat (a plot of char land), between the old and new Howrah bridges, and pumping out a huge quantity of sand through a pipeline to the New Town.

The spot to be filled initially is about 13 km from the Hooghly. The farthest point is about 20 km away. A Yugoslav company filled the low-lying areas of Salt Lake in the same method 30 years ago.

The Dutch company, Boskalis International, has already carried out a survey of Ghusuri Flat and Rajarhat. Boskalis officials said the company had worked on similar projects in Hong Kong and countries including the US, the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and Singapore.

“We carried out the main survey over the past three months and have already taken the Rajarhat soil back to our laboratories in The Netherlands and tested it. We found it suitable for dumping the required 16 million cubic metres of sand,” said Dik van Uitert, managing director of the Boskalis office in Mumbai.

Uitert held a meeting with the government’s technical committee on the Rajarhat New Town and officials of Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (Hidco), the nodal agency for New Town development, on April 16, and the project is being given its final touches.

Elaborating on how the sand will be pumped across through a pipe of 800-mm diameter, Uitert said while laying the pipeline and carrying out the dredging, his company will follow all Euro-II norms and other criteria of safety and security.

The contract to start work is expected to be signed soon and the project will take about three years to complete. Hidco officials said already, 660 hectares in the Action Area-I had been filled with earth dug out of the adjacent east Calcutta wetlands and bheris and brought to the New Town in trucks.

“We have finished filling the low-lying areas close to the wetlands. Now, we need to fill the areas further away, but the transport cost is proving extremely time-consuming and expensive. So, we fell back on experience and thought we should fill the New Town areas like we did Salt Lake over 30 years ago,” said Debashis Sen, managing director of Hidco.

Carrying earth by trucks from the wetlands to the low areas of New Town’s Action Area-I cost nearly Rs 200 per cubic metre, officials pointed out. So, the Dutch company will have to charge Rs 200 or less per cubic metre to make the project cost-effective.

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