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Rajarhat off Metro map
- East-West project in cost-and-km cut

The East-West Metro project is on the brink of being downscaled and devalued.

The final presentation on Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's pet project, scheduled for Thursday, will place on the table an East-West Metro nine km and Rs 1,500 crore less than originally planned.

Ironically, the cost-and-kilometre cut will be achieved by carving out from the course the other pet development project of the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government ' Rajarhat.

'There is no way we can build the rail corridor as planned, connecting New Town in Rajarhat and Dasnagar in Howrah,' government officials admitted on Wednesday.

The two locations have disappeared from the Rs 3,500-crore plan to be presented before the CMDA by Delhi Metro Railway Corporation managing director E. Sridharan and his team.

According to the new 14-km route, the train will start at Salt Lake Sector V and terminate at Kadamtala, touching EM Bypass, Phoolbagan, Narkeldanga Main Road, Sealdah, BB Ganguly Street, BBD Bag, Howrah station and Howrah Maidan.

'We have made it clear that the route, from Salt Lake to Writers' Buildings, as desired by the chief secretary, is neither technically nor economically viable. The only alternative is to exclude New Town and ply the Metro between Salt Lake and Dasnagar, or Kadamtala, in Howrah,' said Ashok Sengupta, chief consultant of Delhi Metro Railway Corporation.

The Salt Lake starting-point is subject to the availability of around 70 acres of land for the terminal, at Central Park. If the land is not available, then the route will be redrawn and the terminal set up at New Dasnagar.

From Salt Lake to Phoolbagan, the track will be elevated, from Phoolbagan to Sealdah on-surface, from Sealdah station to Howrah station underground, and then again on-surface till the terminal.

Sridharan's original report for the 23-km route from New Town to Dasnagar, submitted to chief secretary Ashok Gupta on February 9, had pegged the cost of East-West Metro at around Rs 5,000 crore. But the government, citing its inability to shell out its share of Rs 2,400 crore, had cried for a scale-down.

The government's myopic move goes against Sridharan's earlier suggestion that it concentrate on raising funds for the project rather than cutting it down. 'We have been encouraging the CMDA to look at various resource-raising options,' said Delhi Metro Railway Corporation chief consultant Sengupta. 'In fact, if one focuses on the job, one can hope to complete the project as originally planned.'

CMDA officials said the committee of secretaries would discuss the revised draft report and take a final decision.

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