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Land hope for EW Metro

The government will provide a portion of Brabourne Road for reviving the Hooghly underwater stretch of East-West Metro’s phase II project if the tunnelling doesn’t disrupt traffic and guarantee minimal disturbance to underground utilities.

The railways on Thursday asked the government to spare a 400sq-metre plot on Brabourne Road to start work on the proposed 2km tunnel connecting Calcutta with Howrah.

The land is required for building a shaft through which the boring machine will be brought out after drilling the riverbed tunnel. Officials said the shaft could be built in six months.

The government said the plot would be given if Calcutta police and the Calcutta Municipal Corporation confirm minimal traffic disruption and negligible changes to underground utilities, respectively.

The proposal and the clause-heavy assurance came at a meeting on Thursday between the government, the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC), the implementing agency of the East-West project, and Transtonnelstroy Afcons Joint Venture, which has bagged the contract for phase II.

The three brainstormed to find a solution after Calcutta High Court took note of the project stalled for the past two years because of a land logjam.

The court on June 4 prodded the stakeholders to clear the way for East-West Metro, connecting Salt Lake’s Sector V with Howrah Maidan. Justice Dipankar Datta had said: “I want to monitor the project till its end. I want all parties to talk among themselves and solve the problem. If they fight against each other, what will happen to Calcutta?”

After the meeting, a government official said: “We received a proposal from the railways. Letters will be sent to Calcutta police and the civic authorities. We want to be sure there won’t be any major traffic disruption or utilities won’t have to be shifted on a large scale.”

Sources said KMRC, the implementing agency, proposed that land could be made available by vacating a parking lot near the proposed Mahakaran station. “The parking space could be used for building the underground shaft without major traffic disruption on Brabourne Road,” said an official.

KMRC officials told the government that traffic near Writers’ Buildings has reduced after the secretariat shifted to Nabanna.

Afcons repeated its plea for land since German equipment worth Rs 80 crore for the tunnelling has been lying idle for the past two years.

The boring machines will be taken underground through a similar shaft at Howrah Maidan. They will drill a 500m tunnel under the Hooghly to reach the Calcutta side, possibly the parking lot on Brabourne Road.

KMRC officials said the shaft well could be filled and covered after taking out the machines.

Besides uncertainty over the shaft site, the project hit the rough when Calcutta police shot down the blueprint for the proposed Mahakaran station near Writers’ Buildings. The police had cited traffic mayhem near the seat of power.

The government had suggested a route realignment too so that the tracks, instead of heading west from Sealdah, turn north and run below Nirmal Chunder Street towards Raja Subodh Mullick Square, where a station could be built.