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Metro links may go the extra mile

Delhi modular model to connect city to fringes

Calcutta: Kona in the west, Baruipur in the south and Kalyani in the north. The city's expanding Metro network is aiming to go the Delhi way, embracing the outskirts that have become bustling neighbourhoods with thousands of commuters in search of quick, reliable transport.

"We will propose to the railway ministry a modular expansion of the Metro network in and around Calcutta on the lines of what Delhi Metro has done. Surveys will find out if there are any major hindrances," a senior official of the state government said last week.

A survey is already underway to find out the feasibility of a proposed extension of the East-West Metro from Howrah Maidan to Kona. An extension of the Airport-Kavi Subhash link till Baruipur and an arm of the Baranagar-Barrackpore Metro till Kalyani are part of the larger plan.

The state government's decision to expand the Metro network comes after slow but significant success in removing the roadblocks that had delayed the parent projects. The hindrances include encroachments, underground utilities in some sites, flyovers and bridges, and towers and pillars.

All ongoing Metro projects have missed multiple deadlines.

For the proposed extension of the East-West Metro to Kona, government officials said the initial plan was to take the link till Ramrajatala and then further to Santragachhi. RITES, the railway organisation that provides multidisciplinary consultancy, has been contracted for the survey.

The railways has informed the government that the Kona extension would require a large plot of land for a maintenance depot and a train shed. "The 80-acre truck terminal in Kona is the ideal location. An elevated depot can be built over the terminal," a government official said.

For the New Garia-Baruipur extension, the tentative plan is to build tracks along the Adi Ganga.

The proposed Baranagar-Kalyani link has been on the drawing board once, based on a preliminary study along the Kalyani Expressway. "If the Baranagar-Barrackpore route is revived, we would need to take a fresh look at whether a parallel line is at all required," a railway source said.

The Rs 2,070-crore Baranagar-Barrackpore project had been given up for dead after the Calcutta Municipal Corporation refused to allow tracks to be built along BT Road, citing the possibility of damage to a network of underground water pipes. The state government recently asked the civic body to hire a consultancy to find out if there was a way of avoiding damage.

The prod to examine the technical feasibility of reviving the Baranagar-Barrackpore Metro came within weeks of Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that Bengal must not abandon the project.

There are six water lines under BT Road connecting Palta waterworks to the Tallah reservoir. "The technical study will assess whether the Metro piers will pose any danger to the water pipes. Once the report is available, we will think about the next course of action," mayor Sovan Chatterjee said.

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