The shaft, said Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC) engineers, was a must for the 2.25-km corridor for injecting fresh air into the tunnel and for urgent evacuation of commuters in an emergency. In fact, an uncertainty over the site—the shaft requires more than 10,000 sq m—had put a question mark on the project altogether.
Unable to clear the stumbling block, the transport department, on instructions from chief minister Mamata Banerjee, sought help from mayor Sovan Chatterjee and MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay. “It has been decided that the boxing club will be shifted to the site where the KMC now has a nursery, a ward office of conservancy department and a store. The KMC might shift some quarters of the conservancy department,” said principal secretary (transport) Alapan Bandyopadhyay. He, along with Chatterjee and Bandyopadhyay, conducted inspected the site following which the KMC gave the final clearance.
Now that the shaft site has been finalized, the only hurdle left in the East-West Metro’s 9.8km underground stretch is a no-objection certificate from the local military authorities for the construction of the Esplanade station. In the past civil-military liaison conference ahead of the polls, it was decided the KMRC had to apply for the NOC for the plot. Without a clearance, groundwork, such as the shifting of tram tracks, could not be launched.
When Bowbazar (Central) Metro station was earlier scrapped owing to realignment issue, RITES chose Wellington Square as the site for a station between Sealdah and Esplanade in the detailed project report (DPR). But during physical inspection, the transport department found the site required a large-scale demolition, including that of private buildings. So, the idea of a station at Wellington Square was dropped, leaving a long stretch between Sealdah and Esplanade without one.