The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has brought the New Garia-Airport Metro alignment back on track by offering land from the eastern periphery of the airport for construction of the proposed flyover on VIP Road, which had emerged as a major bottleneck for the project. The offer has come as a huge relief for Rail Vikash Nigam Ltd (RVNL), the executing agency of the Metro project, and PWD, the agency entrusted with the construction of the flyover.
To facilitate construction of the flyover, the state government had asked RVNL to take the Metro underground from City Centre II. The original plan was to take the Metro viaduct 500 metres along an elevated corridor on VIP Road and then take it underground for the final stretch in the airport area. The state government reasoned that it was not possible to part with two of the six lanes of VIP Road, one of the busiest corridors in the city. The flyover planned by the state would connect VIP Road with Jessore Road through an elevated corridor from Gate 1 on VIP Road with Gate 3 on Jessore Road.
The entire Metro project became uncertain with the Railway Board disagreeing to the change, citing time and cost overrun. The cost of constructing an underground corridor is nearly 2.8 times more than an elevated stretch. “We were concerned over the time overrun as well,” said a Railways official. The cost of constructing elevated tracks is 150 crore INR for every kilometre and 350- 400 crore INR for a kilometre of an underground corridor. The distance between City Centre II and the site of the proposed airport station is around 4.9 km.
With both agencies sticking to their stand, the state government had approached the AAI looking for a solution. In a recent meeting chaired by chief secretary Malay De, the problem was largely resolved after a discussion with AAI. It was decided that the state government and Metro Rail would share the cost of the land on a 1:1 ratio. Under the new understanding, the flyover and two Metro alignments will run parallel to each other, said a state government source.
“We can now stick to our original plan for the final 4.9km stretch. The City Centre-Rabindra Tirtha-VIP Road stretch would be on the surface while the airport station would be under the ground,” said an RVNL official.