Junior railway minister Adhir Chowdhury inspects the under-construction Sector V station of the East-West Metro. Picture by Amit Datta
Junior railway minister Adhir Chowdhury on Friday cited the example of a Trinamul MLA to drive home how local leaders could facilitate infrastructure projects.
Chowdhury praised Maniktala MLA Paresh Pal for his role in removing encroachments in Kankurgachhi and Kadapara so that work on the East-West Metro could begin there.
“All people’s representatives should come forward to resolve land acquisition issues holding up development projects. Paresh Pal does not belong to our party but the way he is helping the railways remove encroachments is commendable. Other leaders should follow him,” the minister said during his inspection of East-West Metro in Salt Lake.
“The state government should resolve the land issue and we will take care of all other issues. Barring the portion near Duttabad, 75 per cent of work of the first phase between Sector V and Sealdah is complete,” said Chowdhury.
Work on the elevated stretch of East-West Metro is yet to start in Salt Lake’s Duttabad because 115-odd families have been refusing to relocate since 2009.
The Trinamul government has promised to remove the hurdle, and state urban development minister Firhad Hakim has asked Trinamul MLAs of New Town Rajarhat and Bidhannagar — Sabyasachi Dutta and Sujit Bose — to speed up the rehabilitation.
However, officials accompanying Chowdhury on Friday said that not much has happened till date.
When contacted by Metro, Trinamul MLA Pal said he was always in touch with officials of the Kolkata Metro Railway Corporation (KMRC) — the implementing agency of the East-West Metro — and ready to offer his help whenever needed.
“I believe it is my duty to facilitate development in my area. I had held meetings with the encroachers and made them understand that they would get better houses if they were ready to relocate. The people in the area believe me and hence they have moved out,” said Pal.
As part of its rehabilitation plan, the KMRC has planned to spend around Rs 5 lakh to construct a flat for each Duttabad family to be relocated. But settlers have been refusing to shift. Earlier this year, they had driven away officials sent to survey the site.
“There was a similar problem near Swabhumi, where 63 families had refused to shift to make way for the underground portion of the East-West Metro,” said a KMRC official.
“But Pal held several meetings with the families and persuaded them to move to a site allocated by us. During the construction of the tunnel, a few houses had developed cracks. The families began an agitation but Pal again played a key role in settling the dispute,” the official added.
On Friday, Chowdhury first visited the Sector V station under construction around 3.15pm. From there, he went to the KMRC office beside Subhas Sarovar.
His convoy halted for a few moments near Duttabad but neither he nor the officials got down from their cars.
From the KMRC office, Chowdhury went to inspect construction work at Howrah Maidan.