Wetlands flyover 'by 2019'

The proposed 5km-long flyover connecting the Bypass with New Town through the East Calcutta Wetlands may become a reality by 2019, according to project proponent Hidco.

By Jayanta Basu
  • Published 31.07.17
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East Calcutta Wetlands

July 30: The proposed 5km-long flyover connecting the Bypass with New Town through the East Calcutta Wetlands may become a reality by 2019, according to project proponent Hidco.

The proposal, which environmentalists are opposing on the ground that it will destroy the ecologically-fragile wetlands, has been cleared "in principle" by the East Calcutta Wetlands Management Authority (EKWMA), headed by mayor and environment minister Sovan Chatterjee.

"I am learning from you that the project has been cleared," Debasish Sen, the chairman-cum-managing director of Hidco told Metro. "We will try to start construction this year. I expect work to be over by 2019."

The agency, a public sector undertaking, has proposed the construction of the flyover that will stretch 5km between the Bypass and New Town through the internationally-recognised wetlands.

The Iran-based Ramsar bureau has recognised the wetlands for their role in natural recycling of the city's effluent and making it fit for use in agriculture and fishery.

The high court has banned any change in the land-use pattern of the wetlands, which means all construction activities are prohibited in the 12,500-hectare zone.

The wetlands management authority had on July 14 cleared the project. The minutes of the meeting read: "...after discussion chairman, chief secretary and other members of EKWMA decided that due to public interest involved the Authority approves the project in principle.... Environment safeguards need to be observed by the project implementing authority (and) compensatory water body equivalent to that affected by the project would be needed to be created".

Dhrubojyoti Ghosh, a member of the committee running the wetlands management authority and a wetlands expert, said there was "no unanimity" at the July 14 meeting on the flyover project.

As for the "public interest involved", Ghosh, who is responsible for the international recognition of the wetlands, said: "Where is the public interest? Has there been any credible study which points out the urgent need to build the flyover filling up a number of major water bodies and affecting the livelihood of thousands, apart from triggering a ecological disaster."

Banani Kakkar of PUBLIC, a former member of the committee, said: "This clearance is unacceptable as the high court has barred construction within the East Calcutta Wetlands."