The high court on Monday ordered an interim stay on a lower court order and allowed the government to go ahead with land acquisition for East-West Metro.
Officials involved in the project, however, are far from enthused because of the number of hurdles threatening to derail the Rs 4,875crore project linking Salt Lake Sector V to Howrah.
The division bench of Chief Justice A.K. Mishra and Justice Joymalya Bagchi issued the interim stay on a ruling by Justice Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya of the court, which had dubbed the government’s land acquisition process in Bowbazar “illegal”.
In the judgment delivered on September 11 last year, Justice Bhattacharya had directed the government to return to 273 families the land acquired from them. The petitioners had submitted that the government had issued acquisition notices in August 2009 but declared the compensation in November 2011. According to the Land Acquisition Act 1894, the compensation notice would have to be issued within two years of issuing the acquisition notice.
The interim stay — the division bench will hear the matter again on April 2 — leaves the government free to acquire the land, which is still in possession of the petitioners.
Insiders, however, suspect chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s hands-off policy on land would prevent the administration from seizing the opportunity provided by the judicial relief to take forward the city’s most ambitious infrastructure project in recent years.
“She is against evicting a cluster of shop owners in Bowbazar and had even directed the then Union minister of state for urban development, Saugata Roy, against making any such move to facilitate the construction of Central station on the East-West route,” an official said.
“The court order is not enough. We need the state government’s active assistance to remove land hurdles on various stretches of the East-West route,” said an official of the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation, which is building the 14.67-km link.
Apart from Bowbazar, the project is stuck in Duttabad (Salt Lake) and BBD Bag.
Around 150 families in Duttabad have been refusing to vacate land for an elevated stretch of the project. “The stretch will be supported by 12 piers, which can only be erected after the families move out,” said an official of the corporation.
In the BBD Bag area, around a third of an acre near Writers’ is required to set up Mahakaran station. “The issue is yet to be settled despite several meetings with the state government,” the official said.