Officials conducting a survey to relocate 58 families from Duttabad in Salt Lake so that the stalled East-West Metro project can be restarted were driven away on Monday by Trinamul supporters led by an MLA.
The survey team comprised officials from the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC), the implementing agency of the East-West project, urban development department, the local sub-divisional officer and police. Sabyasachi Dutta, the Trinamul MLA from New Town, and his supporters made the officials leave the Duttabad area around 12.30pm.
“We recently decided at a meeting that we would conduct the survey to relocate the residents. However, we had to abandon the survey after facing stiff resistance,” said Moloy Mukherjee, sub-divisional officer, Bidhannagar. “We do not know when the survey will be conducted again,” he added.
The fate of the Rs 4,875-crore project is uncertain following problems in acquiring land at Duttabad and Bowbazar. East-West was the only Metro project in the city to find mention in railway minister Pawan Bansal’s budget speech on February 26. He allocated Rs 100 crore for the project.
At Duttabad, on the Salt Lake fringes, 150-odd families are refusing to vacate their houses and have rejected the government’s compensation package. The rehabilitation plan is for only 58 families which, according to the government records, have a right to the land.
The problem zone is a 375m stretch of the proposed elevated corridor between Bengal Chemicals and City Centre Salt Lake. The stretch has to be supported by 13 pillars that cannot be erected without acquiring land.
The survey was to mark the houses of families who are to be relocated and the spots for setting up pillars. Trinamul workers reached the spot after the team had marked the office of a voluntary organisation and two houses with chalk. Dutta demanded that the team show him authorisation and a master plan of the area.
The residents asked the officials why policemen were accompanying them. “Are you going to evict us?” they kept asking, according to team members. “We explained that a detailed rehabilitation package has been prepared but they didn’t listen,” said an official.
Dutta claimed he had gone to the spot after receiving complaints from residents. “The residents alleged police atrocities and so I went there. The officials failed to produce any document authorising them to conduct the survey,” he said .
According to Trinamul sources, the decision to conduct a survey was taken at a meeting chaired by state urban development minister Firhad Hakim. Sujit Bose, the Trinamul MLA from Bidhannagar, said the residents had agreed to rehabilitation but Dutta was creating “problems”.