In the election year, the allocation of the implementing agency of a metro project in West Bengal has increased by about 29 percent. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman did not raise the issue in her budget speech, quoting Rabindranath Tagore as a ‘gift’ of multiple road and rail projects. Later, the information published by the center has highlighted that issue.
According to that information, Tk 900 crore has been allocated to Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation Limited (KMRCL) in the next financial year. The company that is in charge of the East-West Metro. Last year’s budget, however, did not mention any allocation to KMRCL. 600 crore was later amended and allocated. In the 2019-20 financial year, the amount of that allocation was Tk 855 crore. Which is politically significant ahead of the upcoming Assembly vote.
Metro officials hope that work on the East-West Metro and part of the three metro corridors will be completed within the next financial year. That’s why they were hoping for additional allocations despite the coronavirus situation. However, the budget information of Railways does not mention any allocation of Railway Development Corporation Limited (RVNL). The reality of those five projects at a glance –
1) East-West Metro project
The revised budget of Tk 8,585 crore was approved by the Union Cabinet in October last year. Metro service is running up to seven kilometers up to Phulbagan at present. Metro officials hope that the metro will run up to Sealdah within this year. The service will then be launched on the entire route from Salt Lake Sector Five to Howrah Maidan by March next year.
2) Dakshineswar-Barrackpore Metro Project
Last-minute preparations are underway on that four-kilometer-long line. The Dakshineswar-Barrackpore Metro will soon start running commercially. Which is going to be one of the tools for the Bengali BJP before the vote. RVNL is in charge of that project.
3) New Goriya-Airport Metro Project
RVNL is in charge of implementing the 32 km long metro project. Metro officials are hoping to start Metro service from Ruby to New Goriya in December this year. But no allocation has been made for the fate of RVNL in this year’s budget. Sitharaman had allocated less money in the last budget than in 2019. No allocation has been announced so far.
4) Joka-Controversial Bug Metro Project
Metro officials are trying to run the metro between Joka and Taratla by December this year. That is why the work of Majherhat station is in full swing. There are plans to extend the service to Mominpur by December 2022. But RVNL is also implementing this project.
5) Noapara-Barasat Metro Project
After a long time, the work was slow. RVNL officials were also planning to launch a metro between Airport-Noapara by December this year. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, however, directed to complete the work on the airport-Noapara by March 31 next year. He set a deadline of December 2025 to complete the work up to New Barrackpore. However, there is a problem of land acquisition in case the metro continues till Barasat. In the meantime, no allocation has been made for that project so far.