A stretch of the East-West Metro project that one construction company had abandoned and others had refused to touch has attracted three big players since Mamata Banerjee stepped in to remove the roadblocks.
The choice is now between four companies to build the 365-metre stretch of the Metro route that will run through Duttabad in Salt Lake. Only one of the
Sources said one of bids came on August 30, two days after the urban development department and the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation jointly completed a settler relocation survey that had been pending for four years. The final bidder entered the fray on August 31, the last date for submission of bids.
Before Mamata’s intervention, only one company had shown interest in picking up from where Gammon India had left off.
“The most important factor has been the change in mindset about where the project is headed, thanks to the state government’s initiative,” said a senior official of one of the companies.
Gammon India, the previous contractor, had pulled out of Duttabad early this year and demanded Rs 19 crore in compensation for losses suffered because of the government’s failure to relocate settlers blocking the route.
The KMRC was forced to twice extend its deadline to find a new contractor because nobody other than the first bidder then seemed interested in staking money, machines and manpower on Duttabad, a political hotbed where two Trinamul MLAs had been sparring until a few weeks ago.
Sources said the backdrop of Gammon’s departure had scared off prospective contractors but their attitude towards the project changed after urban development minister Firhad Hakim got the two MLAs to agree to break the logjam at chief minister Mamata’s behest.
A team of officials entered the Duttabad slum for the first time in four years on August 23 to start a relocation survey that had been attempted several times since 2009, on each occasion to a hostile reaction from the families living there. The survey was completed on August 28, paving the way for the rehabilitation of the 60 families who would need to shift from the Metro route.
The original East-West Metro blueprint had 13 piers along that 365-metre stretch but the design has since been modified so that the elevated corridor rests on seven piers, affecting fewer settlers. The distance between a pair of piers has been increased from 25 to 90 metres.
“The completion of the survey was a big boost to the project. The state government has been very co-operative,” KMRC managing director Hemant Kumar Sharma said.
The government has set up a committee with chief secretary Sanjay Mitra as the chairman and Sharma as its convener to remove any other hindrance to the project. “The chief minister wants all metro projects in the city to progress smoothly. The committee will meet this month to discuss all problems,” a senior government official said.
- Length of stretch: 365 metres
- Piers required: 7
- Till June: 1
- Till July: 1
- By August 31: 4