The state government on Tuesday set up a heavyweight committee headed by the chief secretary to help East-West Metro vault the hurdles on its way.
Bengal’s most ambitious infrastructure project, connecting Salt Lake’s Sector V with Howrah Maidan, has been mired in land-related trouble and the Mamata Banerjee government had been accused of not being inclined to sort out the tangle.
The formation of a committee was the result of a direct intervention by the chief minister in her new-found zeal for governance, stretching from infrastructure to industrialisation. A Writers’ source said the chief minister was “concerned” that almost all infrastructure projects in Calcutta were land-locked.
“The committee has been empowered to take decisions. It will look at all the problems that the project has been facing along the 14.74km stretch,” a senior state official said.
The eight-member committee comprises chief secretary Sanjay Mitra (chairman) and the secretaries of several key departments, including transport, urban development and public works. The commissioners of Calcutta police and the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, the CEO of the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority, the general manager of Eastern Railways and the managing director of the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation are the others on the panel.
“The chief minister wants the impediments in the Metro’s route to be cleared as soon as possible,” said an official.
A state government official said earlier too a committee had been formed to look into the problems of East West Metro but this one was expected to be more effective because it comprised senior officials and, more importantly, it had been vested with the power to take decisions.
The Rs 4,875 crore project is facing hurdles at several places (see chart). Metro has highlighted how red tape and administrative apathy have forced a go-slow on the project. Infrastructure firms Afcons and Gammon have sought compensation for the delay.
But officials at Writers’ said things would soon get a move on. “To begin with, the committee would have to look into the issue of land acquisition at different points,” said a senior official adding that the committee would be meeting shortly to begin its work.
At Duttabad, the urban development department and the KMRC have just begun a survey after four years to identify families that would have to be relocated. “At Bowbazar, this committee will work out ways of handing over the land to the implementing agency,” an official said.
KMRC sources said they were “happy” about the government’s change of stance and “hopeful” of the project hitting the right track.