A team from the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation on Friday entered Salt Lake’s Duttabad slum for the first time in four years to start a hutment-relocation survey crucial to breaking the East-West Metro logjam along that 365-metre stretch.
The survey had been attempted several times since 2009, on each occasion to a hostile reaction from the families that live there. Friday saw a team of engineers from the rail corporation and the urban development department do their job uninterrupted under police watch from 1.30 till 6pm.
“With the state government providing support, we will be able to complete the first phase (of construction) in about three years’ time,” H.K. Sharma, managing director of the KMRC, said.
The stand-off has prevented the KMRC from building seven piers for the proposed elevated corridor between City Centre Salt Lake and Bengal Chemicals.
“The survey will resume on Saturday and if it can’t be completed by the end of the day, we will extend it to Monday,” an official of the urban development department said.
The team took photographs of the owners and tenants living in the huts that would have to make way for the Metro piers.
The plan is to build temporary houses for the displaced families on a nearby plot provided by the urban development department. The families would later be allotted a 264sq ft flat each.
“It will take us three months to build the temporary structures and a year to get the flats ready,” managing director Sharma said.
Bijoy Sarkar, a resident of Duttabad for 40 years, blamed confusion over the rehabilitation of those who would be displaced for the four-year impasse. “We are not against the Metro project, we are worried about our future. Trinamul leaders had been telling us for the past few years that we won’t be rehabilitated.”
Neighbour Sanatan Chakraborty said he wouldn’t hesitate to relocate if offered a proper alternative. “The area gets waterlogged after heavy rain. It becomes a very dirty and unhygienic place to live in. If I get a good flat in a proper location, why won’t I shift?”
The KMRC had first planned 13 piers on that stretch but modified the design so that the elevated corridor could rest on seven piers, affecting fewer settlers.
The distance between a pair of piers has been increased from 25 to 90 metres.