The three-city race for Japanese funds to construct an underground railway is entering a final and frenetic lap.
Next week, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee will receive a detailed project report on the Rs 4,500-crore East-West Metro project that aims to connect New Town Rajarhat with Dasnagar in Howrah, on land and through an underwater capsule.
Also vying for funds from the Japanese Bank For International Cooperation (JBIC) are Bangalore and Mumbai.
'We cannot say that we've bagged the project, but there are encouraging signs for us,' commented a senior official involved in the exercise.
Officials confirmed on Thursday that E. Sridharan, managing director of Delhi Metro Railway Corporation, and his team would fly in on February 8 to present the detailed project report.
The chief minister, then, is expected to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh later this month to push for the JBIC funds.
The project envisages 17 stations on the 23-km route between Rajarhat and Dasnagar. A train, originating from New Town, will reach Karunamoyee in Salt Lake through the recently-built New Town Road. It will then reach City Centre, passing along Central Park, and touch EM Bypass via Shyamali housing estate.
The train will then reach Salt Lake stadium, before turning at the crossing of the EM Bypass and Narkeldanga Main Road to reach the surface railway bridge near Phoolbagan.
Using the surface track, it will reach Sealdah station and then slip underground on BB Ganguly Street to hit the Central Metro Railway station.
From here, the East-West Metro will reach BBD Bag through BB Ganguly Street and take a right near Writers' Buildings to reach Jagannath Ghat via Brabourne Road.
From Jagannath Ghat, the train will go under the river and emerge on the surface at Howrah station, from where it will proceed towards Dasnagar, via Howrah Maidan and Kadamtala.
'There will be a separate cross-functional body to monitor implementation of the project,' said urban development secretary K.S. Rajendrakumar.
The government had engaged Delhi Metro Railway Corporation in May 2004 to prepare the project report, at a cost of Rs 3.20 crore. The Centre met 40 per cent of the cost, while the rest was provided by the CMDA.
Delhi Metro Railway Corporation said the report had been prepared on the basis of the feasibility study carried out by the JBIC and feedback from the railways, Metro Rail, Calcutta Port Trust, CMDA, Calcutta Municipal Corporation, and the transport, urban development and environment departments.
'We are visiting Calcutta on February 8 for an audio-visual presentation of the project report. The chief minister will have a clear idea about the project after witnessing it,' A.K.C. Unni, joint director, Delhi Metro Railway Corporation, told Metro.