The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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East-West Metro in river of delay

Calcutta, Jan. 30: The chief minister’s “do-it-now” mantra does not seem to have made much headway in the world of Bengal’s babudom.

A dream project — the East-West Metro — now has a question mark written over it, thanks to government agencies’ delay in responding to the draft feasibility report submitted by the Japan Economic Trade Organisation (Jetro).

The risk now is that Calcutta may lose Japanese funding to Bangalore or Hyderabad or Delhi, where similar projects are under way or planned.

The Japanese team submitted the report on December 19, seeking comments from the 11 agencies involved in the project in a fortnight.

Till date, only five have responded. Jetro — supposed to submit the final report in the middle of January after incorporating observations from the local agencies — is also stuck, officials said.

“There is a very real danger of the state losing the project,” one of them said.

That the report found the Rs 4,000-crore project (connecting Rajarhat in the east with Ramrajatala in Howrah in the west after crossing the Hooghly) viable has added to the anguish.

“We do not know when we will be able to do our part of the job,” Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) director Tushar Mitra said. CMDA was asked to oversee this part of the work.

Most embarrassingly, the transport department — the selected nodal agency for the project — is one of the agencies that is a laggard. “The transport department, without giving its opinion, asked for another copy of the report as the first one was ‘missing’,” a senior official said. “They collected this on Wednesday,” he added.

Chief traffic and transportation engineer B.K. Sadhu admitted the delay and explained that there was “some gap in communication and some misunderstanding”.

“We thought we did not need to submit anything as we had given our suggestions,” he said.

Metro Railway chief engineer Ashok Gupta had a similar explanation. “We did not have anything to add to what we said during the meeting with the Japanese representatives and, therefore, thought no further communication was necessary.”

Eastern Railway chief transport planning manager S.S. Guru claimed his agency had given its comments “long back” but CMDA officials denied this. “Nevertheless, we are sending another copy,” Guru concluded.

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