The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Route cut, East-West rolls on

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's derailed dream project, East-West Metro, is back on track, with the railway ministry agreeing to implement the Rs 4,000-crore project.

The railway board, in a letter to chief secretary Amit Kiran Deb on May 12, has expressed its willingness to take up the project if the state agrees to contribute its share ' Rs 1,300 crore, payable in five years.

The government, which had earlier put the project on hold because of paucity of funds, has conveyed its consent to the Centre on the proposed sharing of funds.

The proposed rail route connecting the city's flanks, however, has been curtailed from 23 km to 16 km, bringing down project cost from Rs 5,400 crore to Rs 4,000 crore.

Instead of extending from Dasnagar (Howrah) to New Town, as planned originally, it will now run from Howrah Maidan to Salt Lake.

Though the route length has been reduced, the alignment remains unchanged.

The proposed 16-km route from the Salt Lake end is: Central Park, City Centre, Salt Lake stadium, Narkeldanga Main Road, Phoolbagan, Sealdah station, BB Ganguly Street, BBD Bag, Jagannath Ghat, Howrah station and finally Howrah Maidan.

From New Town to Phoolbagan, the train will run on elevated tracks. Between Phoolbagan and Sealdah, it will use the existing ones. Thereafter, it will run underground.

From Central Metro station, it will proceed towards BBD Bag through BB Ganguly Street and take a right turn near Writers' Buildings to reach Jagannath Ghat. Between the ghat and Howrah station, the route runs beneath the Hooghly.

Under the initial scheme, the state had to pump in Rs 2,400 crore, and also bear the burden of loan repayment with interest, over a period of six years, to the Centre and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation. The state had expressed its inability to cough up such a huge amount.

The revised estimate seems more manageable.

Chief secretary Deb said: 'We have no problem in providing this amount. The railway ministry has informed us that it is willing to implement the East-West Metro if the state agrees to invest a share of the project cost. We are ready to do that. We have already contributed one-third of the cost of extending the Metro Railway from Tollygunge to Garia and also of setting up the Chitpur terminal.'

The detailed project report for East-West Metro has been submitted to the railway authorities. 'We will soon sit with senior railway officials in Delhi to finalise the modality of implementing the project. The chief minister does not want any delay, as the project is one of his top priorities,' Deb asserted.

Once the modalities are worked out, officials said Delhi Metro Railway Corporation (DMRC) managing director E. Sridharan will be assigned to oversee the project.

The DMRC had prepared the detailed project report for the East-West Metro. The Centre had paid Rs 4 crore and the state half the amount for preparing the report.

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