Land cloud over Dakshineswar Metro set to lift

The Noapara-Dakshineswar Metro project that has been stuck in a land logjam for more than six years is set to roll with the government deciding to shift from Saturday the 202 families occupying a 250m stretch on the route.

By Sanjay Mandal and Subhajoy Roy
  • Published 13.10.17
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Oct. 12: The Noapara-Dakshineswar Metro project that has been stuck in a land logjam for more than six years is set to roll with the government deciding to shift from Saturday the 202 families occupying a 250m stretch on the route.

State transport minister Subhendu Adhikari will hand over the keys to alternative accommodations to 50 families on October 14, officials said. The remaining 152 familes will be shifted by the middle of December.

Once the 202 families are relocated, the last hurdle threatening to derail the Noapara-Baranagar-Dakshineswar Metro project will be removed.

"Our government is concerned about the agony of the people who will have to be shifted. But Metro is a very important project, which will help lakhs of people. So, I tried to settle the issue amicably," Adhikari told Metro today.

All these families had earlier been steadfast in their refusal to move and the government had taken no initiative to break the impasse.

The government, however, later changed its stand with the transport department allotting Rs 10 crore for building a 300sq ft house for each family. The houses have been built at a site around 3km from where the families stay.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in an interactive session on September 27 asked Bengal chief secretary Malay De why the Baranagar-Barrackpore project had been stalled and the encroachers were not being removed from the route of the Noapara-Dakshineswar project.

Government sources said the 250m stretch on the Noapara-Dakshineswar route, which has been under illegal occupation and where 12 pillars will come up to support the tracks, had been seeing hectic activities since the Prime Minister's nudge.

Simplex Infrastructures Ltd, the private company awarded the contract to build the link, has started mobilising its men and machinery in anticipation that work would start soon. The deadlock had prompted the firm to demobilise its workforce and tools.

"Over the past month, the company has brought to the site two hydraulic rigs (used for piling), four cranes and 400 men. Work will start as soon as the settlers are shifted," a railway official said.

"Seventy per cent of the work on the Noapara-Dakshineswar link is over. If work on the stalled stretch starts now, the project will be ready in one-and-a-half years."

Construction for the project had started in February 2011, only to be stalled by encroachments on two stretches,under Baranagar and Kamarhati municipalities. The 250m stretch - part of Rajiv Nagar colony - is under the Kamarhati civic body, which has built the houses where the settlers will be relocated.

The Baranagar deadlock was broken last year, with the 148 families encroaching on a proposed construction site agreeing to leave.

Two contractors have quit the project since 2010 and one of them claimed a compensation of around Rs 100 crore for losses incurred because of the authorities' failure to resolve the land row.

Simplex was awarded the contract in November 2014.

The families who had earlier refused to relocate and moved court sang a different tune while speaking to Metro today.

"We will shift as we are being provided with alternative accommodation," Santana Roy, who has been staying at Rajiv Nagar for 30 years, said.

"The government had asked us to relocate at a meeting two-three years back. Nothing happened after that," said Lakshmi Das, one of the settlers. "There were renewed attempts over the past six months. Local Trinamul councillor Biswajit Gon met us multiple times, asking us to move to the new houses."