An underwater metro ride, for the first time in India, is no longer a pipe dream. The much-awaited East-West Metro Corridor Project (EWMCP) connecting Howrah station with the city’s IT hub Salt Lake received the green signal from the Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee government on Thursday.
Of the total 13.7 km stretch, an 8-km track will pass below the Ganga, making it the first underwater tube rail in the country, requiring an estimated investment of Rs 5,608 crore, officials at the state secretariat said.
The work on Kolkata’s second metro is to begin around December 2008 and is scheduled to be over by 2014.
The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) will provide 45 per cent ($ 856.40 million) of the project cost as a long-term. The rest of the cost will be borne jointly by the West Bengal and Central governments respectively.
The formal launch is likely in March 2008 when the JBIC officials will be in the city for signing an agreement for a soft-loan for around Rs 2,000 crore. The Centre will provide the balance 30 while the state government will contribute 25 per cent.
There would be 12 stations, officials said, in the entire stretch between Church Road in Howrah and Salt Lake’s Sector V-Rajarhat point in northeastern Kolkata.
Presently, the tube rail travels about 16.5 km,connecting the north-south axis from Dum Dum to Tollygunge in the southern fringe. The JBIC recently submitted a feasibility report to the state government where it proposed to put six stations of the new project at an elevation of 5.5 metres from the ground while the balance six stations will be underground.
The project involves boring tunnels beneath the Ganga at depths of 15 to 20 metres and Japanese technology will be used to dig the tunnel under the river.
The West Bengal government, officials said, will form the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation which will repay the loan that taken from the Centre.
Unlike eight coaches in the existing metro, the second tube rail will have four coaches and the platforms will have screen doors in both the elevated and underground stations.
There will be an automatic system for collecting fare. The train is expected to run at an average speed of 80 km an hour. The tube rail is designed to carry around 31,000 commuters.