TMC fumes as Irani invited to open Sealdah Metro station, Mamata ‘ignored’

With the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC) announcing the inauguration of the Sealdah Metro station by Union minister Smriti Irani on Monday, the ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal has accused the Centre of playing politics by “not inviting” chief minister Mamata Banerjee to the inauguration of a major station on the East-West Metro corridor.

TMC MLA Madan Mitra claimed that since Banerjee is not in the state, the KMRC inaugurates the major metro station, alleging “this isn’t the tradition of democracy”.

The party also claimed that during her tenure as the railway minister, it was Banerjee who had approved the project.

“The BJP government is ignoring those who laid the foundation of Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC). This isn’t the tradition of democracy. CM Mamata Banerjee isn’t in the state right now, so they’re inaugurating KMRC, news agency ANI quoted Mitra as saying.

Mitra added that if the chief minister gives them the direction, the Centre won’t be able to do anything. “But we won’t do it… let the public see. They think this is also Maharashtra and another Eknath can be found here…,” the TMC leader said.

About the Metro project

Sealdah, a major station of the East West Metro corridor, will be inaugurated on Monday. The commercial services between Sector V in Salt Lake and Sealdah will start from July 14, Metro railway spokesperson Ekalabya Chakraborty said.

The Metro authorities are pinning hopes that the extension of services up to Sealdah will significantly increase the number of passengers in the partially operational East West Metro corridor, which is suffering from low patronage.

“Sealdah station of East West Metro will be inaugurated on Monday and Union minister Smriti Irani has been invited to inaugurate it,” he said. Even if the Union minister of women & child development and minority affairs is unable to make time, the inauguration will still be held on that day, Chakraborty said.

The Metro station will link suburban train services to and from Sealdah, one of the busiest terminal railway stations in the country, thus providing connectivity to the passengers travelling to Salt Lake and Information Technology hub at Sector V there.

The East West Metro section connecting Howrah Maidan and Salt Lake is partially operational at present with services being operated between Sector V station and Phoolbagan.

Out of the 16.6 km length of East West Metro, the underground corridor constitutes 10.8 km between Howrah and Phoolbagan with the tunnel passing below the Hooghly river. For the rest of the route, trains will travel on elevated tracks, according to KMRC, the executing agency of the project.

On August 31, 2019, a tunnel boring machine hit an aquifer leading to severe ground subsidence and the collapse of several buildings at Bowbazar. It caused a delay in the completion of the project, which was earlier scheduled for December 2021.

(With inputs from ANI, PTI)