Buddha switches off light rail for Mamata
1 December 2010
statesman news service
KOLKATA, 1 DEC: A year and a half after the chief minister, Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, unveiled the foundation stone for the light rail transit system (LRTS) at a five-star hotel in the city with much fan fare, the project was given a quiet burial today when the joint venture company formed to execute it agreed to give its no-objection to the Metro Railway's project connecting Joka with Esplanade on the same route. However, as a face-saving measure, the state government is yet to fold up the joint venture company it had formed with private investor Shrei Infrastructure Finance way back in 2009 and officially it is being said that the company would be free to execute the remaining portion of the project namely from Esplanade to Barrackpore.
The state government had signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the private partner for building LRTS between Joka and Barrackpore and hence its assent was required to scrap a portion of the project. Interestingly, last week the state transport secretary had already informed the Metro Railway authorities that the government was ready to give its project the required clearance. A board meeting of the Kolkata Mass Rapid Transit Private Limited was called today where it was decided that the company had no objection to the proposal of the Railways for a Metro link between Joka and Esplanade on the same alignment that was to be used for the LRTS project.
Although a part of the project has been kept alive, it is unlikely that the LRTS would ever be implemented as land acquisition for the project from Esplanade to Barrackpore is not plausible under the present circumstances. The alignment between Joka and Esplanade would not have posed much problem simply because the median on the Diamond Harbour Road would be used to build the elevated portion. However, Consultancy Engineering Services, the consultants for the project, had submitted a bill of Rs 6 crore for preparing the DPR of the project which was to be paid by the operator once the project was executed. However, with the project virtually scrapped, it has posed quite a headache for the state government.