Kolkata: A major roadblock in building the East West Metro corridor was removed with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) granting permission on Monday to build the track and a station near three monuments in the heart of the city.
The ASI on Monday submitted to the Calcutta High Court a copy of its order permitting the Kolkata Metro Rail Corp. Ltd (KMRCL) to lay the underground metro line and build Mahakaran station at Dalhousie area, near the heritage Currency Building.
The office of the regional director and competent authority in West Bengal of the National Monuments Authority (NMA) on Monday submitted a copy of its permission order to bench of Justice Dipankar Datta, removing a major impediment in laying the metro line.
Nandini Bhattacharya Sahu, the competent authority, granted permission for construction of the Mahakaran Metro station in the regulated area near the Currency Building, a national monument. Apart from the Currency Building, there are two synagogues which are also heritage buildings.
Laying down the conditions for such construction, the NMA said “all construction above the ground, including Mahakaran Metro station, shall be beyond the 100-metre prohibited area of Centrally Protected Monuments."
It also said that a “joint committee shall be set up under the chairmanship of the regional director, ASI, which will include technical experts from IIT, Kharagpur and officers of KMRCL." “This committee shall monitor the proposed works and shall ensure all possible measures which are required to be taken for the safety of the three monuments in question," according to the conditions laid down by NMA.
It said a monthly report on the progress of the project shall be submitted to NMA and director general, ASI. Reiterating its concern over the safety of the monuments during and post-construction and to monitor it on real time basis, the NMA said “for this purpose, KMRCL shall install equipments on all protected monuments along the proposed route capable of measuring vibrations, structural impacts when construction activities are on and during the metro operations."
It also said that any adverse effect in any of the centrally-protected monuments in the vicinity due to the KMRC project has to be taken care of by KMRC under the supervision of the superintending archaeologist, ASI, at Kolkata.
The permission also said that KMRCL should set up a separate fund for the purpose of heritage promotion and campaigning for the cause of Kolkata’s heritage. Justice Datta had, during the previous hearing, asked the Centre to make efforts to find out ways to make an exception in the ASI’s heritage building rules to facilitate the construction of a tunnel, which will pass through places near or under three such buildings and of Mahakaran station.
AFCONS, which is carrying out the construction work of the tunnel, has moved the high court seeking relief over delay owing to the issues related to occupiers who are not evacuating five old buildings in Burrabazar area and permission for construction near or under the three heritage buildings in Dalhousie area.
AFCONS has claimed that stoppage of the working of huge boring machines that are being used for the purpose, will lead to financial loss to the company and also further delay in completion of the work. The 14.67 km-long East West Metro corridor connecting Howrah with Salt Lake Sector V has suffered delays in completion schedule owing to various reasons.
Tunnel boring from the Howrah side is being done and at present work is on under the Hooghly river. After passing through the riverbed, the metro tunnel will enter the highly congested Burrabazar area, which is the wholesale trading hub of eastern India, and then it will reach Dalhousie where the heritage buildings are located.