New Delhi: The Centre on Friday accused the West Bengal government of creating hurdles in the East-West Metro Corridor project. The state government has withdrawn a petition pertaining to land acquisition on a particular stretch in the metro project from the Kolkata High Court and has advocated a change in the alignment.
"The change in the alignment at this stage will not only delay the project further but cost will also escalate many fold. The state government should facilitate in executing the project instead of delaying it," said Minister of State for Railways Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury in New Delhi.
The 14-km long metro corridor project connecting Howrah with Salt Lake is to be executed at an estimated cost of Rs 4,874 crore out of which Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has agreed to provide Rs 2,253 crore as soft loan.
While the cost will go up by Rs 700 crore, it will be difficult for the JICA to provide loan after the change in alignment, Chowdhury, a bitter critic of TMC supremo said.
Earlier, the state had acquired land at a particular stretch for the project and affected persons had moved court against the acquisition. The court found procedural fault in the acquisition and asked the state to return the land. The state had appealed against the decision.
However, on December 19, the state government withdrew the application filed before the court. Railways had filed a recall petition in the Kolkata High Court in this regard, Chowdhury said.
157 persons will be affected with the land acquisition of that particular stretch for the project. Railways had already incurred Rs 28.53 crore for land acquisition and rehabilitation and Rs 8.50 crore spent in construction of houses for the affected families.
"If the alignment is changed at this juncture all these expenditure will go waste," he said adding "the alignment should not be sacrificed for 157 people as the project will benefit five lakh people in the state."
The then Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee had decided that the metro project will be executed by the Railways instead of Urban Decelopment Ministry and state government.
The state's role will be limited for acquiring land for the purpose. But the scenario changed with TMC forming the government in the state and later on withdrawing support to the UPA.
He said when Centre is supporting the Bengal government in providing a safe and rapid transit system in Kolkata, the state government should also facilitate the land acquisition for the project. Instead of fighting the case in the court, they are withdrawing it and seeking a change in the route alignment which will cause a huge hurdles in the project, he said.