Adhir Chowdhury at Noapara on Wednesday. Picture by Amit Dutta
Junior railway minister Adhir Chowdhury on Wednesday blamed the Mamata Banerjee government for not removing squatters along the proposed Metro expansion routes.
Inaugurating the Noapara Metro station on Wednesday, Chowdhury said encroachment has slowed down Metro projects to “a snail’s pace”. He accused the state government of twiddling its thumbs instead of clearing the bottlenecks.
“Those in power need to fulfil the needs of the people. The chief minister, who is a former railway minister, needs to look into the issues of Metro more seriously,” he said.
“In Delhi, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, the state governments take the initiative to build and expand the Metro. But in Calcutta, the Centre is building Metro projects,” he added.
Five Metro projects in Calcutta are stuck because of land-related problems. Construction companies Larsen & Toubro, Afcons and Gammon have either withdrawn from these projects or sought compensation because construction of tracks has not taken off.
“The squatters should be dealt with immediately,” Chowdhury said.
“We must accept that Metro is not expanding the way it should. We have not been able to keep pace with the development plans. Calcutta Metro has added only 27km of tracks since the 1980s,” he added.
Noapara has been planned as a hub for three routes — New Garia-Noapara, Barasat-Airport-Noapara and Baranagar-Barrackpore-Noapara. The last two projects are stuck because of unavailability of land.
“Noapara isn’t enough. We have to reach Baranagar, Barasat and Barrackpore. There are 2,875 encroachments between Noapara and Baranagar,” the minister said.
The Metro authorities have built four platforms at Noapara. At least two of them would remain unused until the other routes are ready.
“The 2km extension from Dum Dum to Noapara will benefit barely a few hundred passengers. Noapara was chosen as a hub because there is hardly any room for expansion at Dum Dum,” an official said.
Initially, 50 trains on the New Garia-Dum Dum route will start from or terminate at Noapara. The route has 270 up and down trains.
The first and the last train will leave Noapara at 8.04am and 9.04pm. The arrival timings for the first and last trains will be 7.55am and 8.49pm.