Kolkata's LRT Project
The East-West Metro project has taken off, but the light rail transit (LRT) project, that will complement it, is stuck in a quagmire of inflation and red-tape. The delay in starting the project has meant that the cost has shot up by leaps and bounds.This is certainly not music to the developers’ ears — especially after the government earlier decided to transfer the entire project cost to the private partner on a build-operate-transfer basis. But there’s hope yet for the developers. The state government, desperate to get the project rolling, is making a lastditch effort to tag the project under the Centre’s ‘viability gap’ funding. If it is successful, the Centre will chip in with funds, and the developers will have to pay Rs 3,500 crore.Czech firm Amex Corporation and the German Siemens have been selected to provide the technology. An alignment between Joka and Panihati has been chalked out in the first phase of work. But that’s about the only headway made. For the last year and a half, the government has been confidently announcing that the LRT project will be kick-started in six months. Going by this, bids should have been invited this month. But that hasn’t happened. Now, the transport department is frantically trying to get the project rolling by the end of this year.Sources at Writers’ Buildings held the government’s dithering as the root cause for the mess. “No sensible government would have sat over such a sophisticated project, for it would automatically translate to escalating costs,” said an official.Chowdhury had an explanation ready. “The LRT project had to be included in the comprehensive mobility plan which couldn’t be prepared earlier. We are ready to submit it by this month,” he said. Simultaneously, the government is preparing another project report, which will be sent to the Union finance ministry for ‘viability gap’ funding. The Centre could bear 30% of the costs under this scheme. This report will be sent to Delhi by July 15.
Labels: Kolkata LRT VGF Joka Panihati