Covid curbs shadow over ongoing Kolkata Metro projects

The ongoing restrictions in Kolkata have cast its shadow on some crucial Metro projects that were headed for commissioning early or the middle of next year. Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), implementing most of the city’s Metro corridors, has written to various government authorities, seeking leeway under the current lockdown.

Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC), too, is planning to write to the government so that Metro constructions can be clubbed with essential services. The implementing agency of the Rs 8,575.9 crore East-West Metro project hurriedly completed the tunnelling at Bowbazar on Saturday to beat the restrictions.

The agency was eyeing on an extension of the East-West Metro that will eventually join Sector V and Howrah Maidan, till Sealdah by the end of the year. But the current restrictions may affect the continuity of the constructions. To extend the 7km Sector V-Phoolbagan stretch by another 1km till Sealdah and add more riders, the Metro station coming up inside the Sealdah railway station should be completed.

A part of the railway station is still uncovered while the tunnel borer and other equipment, used for the tunnelling till Bowbazar, need to be extracted through the Sealdah Metro station shaft. “In the absence of labourers, this can’t be done. The overall project has also slowed down. This may also affect June 2022 deadline of the entire 16km corridor,” said a KMRC official.

RVNL, too, is in a fix. “The ongoing restrictions would defer our plans to open the 5km New Garia-Ruby section of the New Garia-Airport Metro,” a senior official said. The construction of the Kavi Sukanta station at the Abhishikta crossing off EM Bypass has come to a standstill. The filling of the viaduct gap leading to the station has also been halted. Work of the terminal, Kavi Subhas station, has also stopped.

Work on the Joka-Taratala section of Joka-Esplanade corridor has also met the same fate. The construction of the terminal at Joka has been stalled since Sunday, 16th May 2021. “We have written to various agencies, including Kolkata Police and KMDA, to exempt Metro constructions from the restrictions. If the restrictions are not lifted for our sector, all these sections, which were headed for early or mid-2022 commissioning, are going to be affected.

It’s not easy to bring back the same momentum after a lull period,” said a senior RVNL official. The restrictions have also cast a shadow on the Noapara-Barasat via Airport corridor, which had been progressing at a renewed pace over the last few months even during the pandemic. Metro Railway, the umbrella organization for the city’s rapid transit system, had hoped to commission Phase 1 (Noapara-Bimanbandar stretch), covering 7km, in the next two years.

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