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Project report hurdle on light rail path

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By Staff Reporter
  • Published 9.07.09
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Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s dream project for the city — the Light Rail Transit System — seems to be in limbo for want of a detailed project report.

Almost five months have passed since the chief minister launched the project, but Consulting Engineering Services (CES), which is supposed to carry out work for the report, is yet to get a letter from Srei Infrastructure Finance Limited, the principal promoter of the project.

The document holds the key to the project because it will outline all relevant details, including the terms of reference and how the work will be executed.

“We are yet to receive a letter from Srei asking us to start work for the report,” said S.S. Chakraborty, the chairman-cum-managing director of CES.

The chief minister, while launching the project on February 18, had set a five-year deadline but the delay in preparing the report has left transport department officials wondering when work will finally start and when the 40km route from Joka to Barrackpore will be commissioned.

Senior officials of the state government have held a few meetings, including two in Delhi, to get the “stuck” project rolling, but that has not helped. Frustrated, the CES has shot off letters to chief secretary Ashok Mohan Chakrabarti seeking a way out.

Srei, however, maintains the project is on track. “Things are under control and there is nothing to be worried about,” said Braj Kishore, the vice-president of the company. “As for the letter (to CES on starting work for the project report), I wouldn’t comment.”

The company’s chairman-cum-managing director, Hemant Kanoria, couldn’t be contacted.

The Light Rail Transit, to run on elevated tracks across 37 stations, is set to be India’s first-of-its-kind mass transport system. A consortium led by Srei, in association with the West Bengal Transport Infrastructure Development Limited, has been awarded the contract to execute the Rs 6,000-crore project.

Realising the importance of the project in a city starved of road space, the chief minister had called for speedy execution.

“A Special Purpose Vehicle for the project has been created and we can’t wait. The detailed project report has to be completed by this year so real work can start from 2010,” the chief minister had said. Transport department officials said it was Srei’s responsibility to write to the CES seeking the report and foot the bill for the preparatory work. Experts said around Rs 5-6 crore would be required to prepare the report.

  • The points the report would cover include:
  • Survey report of the 40km stretch
  • Location and type of stations to be built
  • How to connect the route with that of the East-West Metro
  • Passenger disposal system at the stations