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Adhir arrow at CMC, govt for Metro hurdles

Junior railway minister Adhir Chowdhury on Wednesday alleged that work on a Metro project was stalled as the Trinamul-run Calcutta Municipal Corporation was not taking any initiative to dismantle a defunct water pipeline under BT Road between Barrackpore and Baranagar.

The Rs 2,296-crore Barrackpore-Baranagar-Noapara Metro project, work on which started in end-2011, has made only 10 per cent progress because of the impasse over the pipeline.

The minister also referred to another hurdle — the government’s reluctance to evict around 500 families who are illegally occupying railway land near Dakshineswar, which falls between Noapara and Baranagar on the Metro stretch.

“Despite the railways having paid for the dismantling of the pipeline, the CMC has not done anything. Work can’t be started because of this,” Chowdhury said at a campaign rally for Congress candidates in the civic polls in Panihati, North 24-Parganas.

Asked about the minister’s allegation, mayor Sovan Chatterjee said the civic authorities have not yet been able to trace the pipe that once used to carry water from Palta to the Tallah reservoir.

“There is a lot of complication in dismantling the old pipeline. We don’t know its exact alignment as there are no records. We are trying our best to find out its exact alignment. But it is difficult to say how long it will take or when we can hand over the site for the Metro construction,” said Chatterjee.

According to an October 2011 memorandum of understanding between the CMC and the railways, the civic body was to dismantle the old pipeline and hand over the land over it, along BT Road, by August 2012.

The pipeline runs 12.5km from the Dunlop crossing till Barrackpore under BT Road, which is more than 63 per cent of the 19.7km Metro route.

Metro engineers said there were two parallel conduits of 60 inch and 42 inch diameter. “Unless these are dismantled, even piling work to raise pillars along the alignment can’t start,” said an official.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had in September 2012 inaugurated a Tallah-Palta pipeline that replaced the old one.

As for the eviction of the 500-odd families, the junior railway minister alleged the state government was not doing anything about it. “The state government is not extending any help to evict the encroachers,” he alleged.

A senior official of the state government said several meetings were held with the railway authorities on the issue but a solution proved elusive. “We are against forceful eviction. The families have to be shifted after the railways promises a proper rehabilitation package,” he said.

The urban development department has taken an initiative to complete a survey in Salt Lake’s Duttabad to shift several families for the East-West Metro. “But in other projects, such as Joka-BBD Bag and Barrackpore-Baranagar-Noapara, the government is not taking any initiative to remove the bottlenecks,” said an official.