Five clubs and one riding school in the Maidan area, some of them more than 100 years old, have to be shifted to make way for the construction of the underground Joka-Esplanade Metro corridor, said railway officials.
The five clubs are Calcutta Police Club, Calcutta Kennels Club, Rajasthan Club, Kalighat Club and Kidderpore Sporting Club. The Kolkata Mounted Police Paddock and Riding School, which falls in the construction area, has to be shifted, too.
The Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), the implementing agency of the project, has requested the clubs to vacate the sites so that work can start “within a month”, said officials.
A meeting was convened on July 17 at the West Bengal Transport Corporation’s Maidan tent. The meeting, chaired by transport secretary Saumitra Mohan, decided that the five clubs and the school would be shifted to enable Metro work, said sources in the state government and railways.
“Among these, the police club and the riding school will have to be relocated permanently. A part of the Esplanade station will be built on the existing ground of the school,” said the official.
Many of these clubs are over a century old. They had received a letter from the railways last month, asking them to vacate the premises for the construction of Park Street and Esplanade Metro stations, the last two stations of the 15.08km Joka-Esplanade corridor, which is now operational between Joka and Taratala.
“At the meeting, the clubs agreed to cooperate following assurance that they would berelocated to the same sites, post-construction,at Metro’s cost,” said a senior official of the transport department.
Some of the clubs have sought alternate land parcels from the army and the state government for the temporary relocation. The army is the custodian of Maidan and all clubs have to renew their lease every year to continue their operations.
“RVNL has agreed to restore the status quo ante of these clubs by reconstructing or reinstating the structures after the completion of the Metro work,” said a formal communication from Metro Railway on Friday.
“We have been told that our tent has to be vacated. We do not own this land. We have to follow the directions of the army and other central authorities. But our ground is not affected. Only the tents are,” said Siddhartha Biswas, general secretary of Kidderpore Club, which was set up in 1917.
Kalighat Club, on the contrary, will only have its ground out of bounds. “We have been told that starting September, the ground will be out of bounds for around two years,” said Bablu Kolay, general secretary of Kalighat Club, which was started in 1928.
“We had asked for an alternate place to run the club. The RVNL has assured us of another place. Once the job is done, the agency will restore the original place,” said Avishek Dalmia, a representative of Rajasthan Club
Most of these clubs have top-tier cricket and football teams. Kalighat won the CAB League this year.
The Kolkata Mounted Police, set up in 1840, has already written to the defence authorities, seeking alternate land. As has the Kennel Club, founded in 1906.
Apart from ensuring land for the construction of two Metro stations, the transport department has also decided to engage consulting agency Rites to draw up the plan for a multimodal transport hub at Esplanade, which will be an interface between three Metro lines — north-south (New Garia-Dakshineswar), East-West (Sector V-Howrah Maidan) and Joka-Esplanade.
The state government has decided that the consulting agency will take into account views of a committee comprising representatives of several departments along with that of the army before finalising its plan.