Kolkata East-West Metro to go under river Hooghly

February 22nd, 2009 - 9:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Feb 22 (IANS) The proposed East-West Metro Railway (EWMR) in Kolkata would cross the Hooghly river 32 metres below the water level.
The Metro will enter the underground section from Howrah station and cross a 900-metre stretch of the river under the water-bed on way to the terminal station at Howrah Maidan, the authorities said.

The foundation stone-laying ceremony of the East-West Metro Corridor project was held here Sunday.

The project is proposed to be completed in October 2014.

“Earlier, we used to hear of the train travelling under the river Thames in London. Now, we will have the same engineering marvel in our country. This will be for the first time in our country that a train will go through a tunnel under a river,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said.

The Empowered Group of Ministers on Mass Rapid Transit System, chaired by Mukherjee, Feb 19 approved the extension of the project from Howrah station to Howrah Maidan, at an additional expenditure of Rs.1.98 billion (Rs.198 crore).

The project will use the ultramodern technology tunnel boring method for the underground stretch.

The approved project cost for the entire 14.67-km route of the train from Salt Lake sector-V to Howrah Maidan will be Rs.48.74 billion (Rs.4,874 crore), out of which Japan International Cooperation Agency has agreed to provide a soft loan of Rs.22.53 billion at an annual interest rate of 1.2 percent.

The project, a joint venture of the central and the West Bengal governments, will get Rs.11.69 billion from the centre and the state government will provide Rs.14.52 billion.

There will be 12 stations, six of these underground and the remaining elevated, said West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who laid the foundation stone.

The East-West Metro will have a minimum fare of Rs.8, and trains will be available at an interval of three minutes initially and two and a half minutes later on.

Officials said 23,000 passengers can avail the train daily, and 500,000 in a whole year, while 3,000 people will get employment during construction and 750 once it starts operation.

“It’s estimated that about 5.99 million litres of diesel and 9.29 million litres of petrol will be saved once the project is implemented,” said union Urban Development Secretary and Kolkata Metro Rail Corp Ltd (KMRCL) chairman N. Ramchandran.

The project will need around 56 acres, of which 53 acres is government land.

A comprehensive rehabilitation plan has been finalised for rehabilitation of 432 project-affected people, Ramchandran said.

State Transport Secretary Sumantra Chowdhury said the work order has already been issued for surveying the underground utilities in the 6-km underground corridor through Salt Lake, and work will be started within 15 days by Gammon India, which has got the tender.

A Hong Kong-based consortium has been appointed as project consultant.

“In the first phase, we will try to operate trains from Salt Lake sector V to Sealdah by end of 2012 or beginning of 2013,” Ramchandran said.

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