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Flyover on fast-forward

- City of unfinished projects gets another foundation stone

A city of unfinished flyovers has been promised one more, which will run 4.32km across urban development minister Firhad Hakim’s constituency.

A pet project of Hakim, the flyover will run between the Ramnagar crossing in the Garden Reach area and Diamond Harbour Road. Two arms will descend on Diamond Harbour Road — one near the Taratala mint and the other towards Mominpur.

An 18-month deadline has been set for the project, which received the Centre’s nod on Tuesday. The foundation stone was laid on Saturday.

Of the estimated project cost of Rs 313.27 crore, the Union urban development ministry will give Rs 109.6 crore. The rest will be borne by the state.

“The laying of the foundation stone of the flyover within five days of the Centre’s approval shows minister Hakim’s keenness to get the project started before the Lok Sabha polls,” said an official.

The project will be handled by the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA), which functions under Hakim’s department and is in charge of several unfinished flyovers in the city.

Parama-Park Circus and Vivekananda Road flyover projects are among the two handled by the CMDA that are running behind schedule (see graphic).

Work on the Parama project — whose original deadline was August 2012 — stopped more than a year ago, after the previous contractor (HCC) demanded a cost escalation. The CMDA cancelled HCC’s contract in December and is looking for a new contractor.

The Vivekananda Road flyover was supposed to be opened to traffic in mid-2011.

As for the Garden Reach flyover, sources said Hakim, who represents the Port constituency in the Assembly, had been pro-active from the initial stage to get the Centre’s approval for the project.

“He repeatedly told engineers and officials to pursue the project with the Centre so that the sanction comes before the Lok Sabha elections,” said a source.

The minister also requested officials of infrastructure firm IL&FS, who are not associated with the project but have good contacts in Delhi, to speak to the central government and arrange for a speedy sanction, said an official involved in the project.

Asked about his keenness on the project, Hakim told Metro: “All flyovers in the city are equally important to me. The Garden Reach flyover has been a long-standing demand of the people. It will reduce snarls.”

Officials said that once the flyover is ready, vehicles will cover the stretch between Garden Reach and Diamond Harbour Road in seven minutes. The travel time now is more than half an hour.

The flyover will serve as an alternative to the Bascule bridge across a canal leading to the Hooghly. The bridge has two leaves, that separate and lift when a large ship approaches or leaves the dock.

When completed, the flyover will be the city’s third longest — after Parama Island (8.14km) and Jinjira Bazar (7.5km) flyovers.