Kolkata: Kolkata will get an underground metro station after 25 years on Sunday as the East-West line will be extended till Phoolbagan, an official said. The Phoolbagan metro station is the first underground one to be opened on the line that will connect Sector V to Howrah Maidan, he said.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal will flag off the first train from Phoolbagan through a video link, the official said on Saturday. Services of the East-West Metro began earlier this year between Sector V and Salt Lake Stadium in the first phase.
Commercial services between Phoolbagan and Sector V will commence from Monday, the official said. Owing to the COVID-19 situation, there will be no formal function at the venue.
The underground MG Road metro station on the North-South line was opened in September 1995. All metro stations opened after that are either elevated or at grade-level. The Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) granted authorisation for extension of services from Salt Lake Stadium to Phoolbagan station in June.
Local TMC MP Sudip Bandopadhyay and MLAs Sashi Panja and Sadhan Pande, both ministers in the state government, will not participate in the programme, sources in their party said, claiming that the state government has been kept in the dark about the event. According to the Metro Railway, Bandopadhyay and the two local MLAs have been requested to join the virtual event of the inauguration.
Bandopadhyay said he was unhappy with the way the Railway Ministry had tried to "bypass" the state government. "I am happy about the project, but why the state government was bypassed? Why did they not inform or invite the chief minister, who is also the former railway minister? She had extended all sorts of help to the East-West metro project.
I am unhappy with the attitude of the authority," he told PTI. Bandopadhyay said he was out of Kolkata and could not join the event.
He also said that during Banerjee's tenure as the railway minister, she used to invite the state transport minister despite having political differences with the then Left Front government. Panja, however, said she is yet to receive an invitation or letter from the Metro Railway.
Metro Railway said that as the programme is being held online and no inauguration ceremony was being held, the local MLAs and MP were requested to join the event. "There is no proper inauguration ceremony. Everything is happening through video conference. So there is no invitation of any sort. The local MP and the MLAs have been requested to participate in the video conference," a senior Metro official said.
On February 13, the 4.88-km-long first phase of the East-West Metro got functional. The public representatives of the TMC gave that eventa miss as well, protesting against the absence of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's name from the invitation card for the programme.
Senior TMC MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Fire Services Minister Sujit Bose and Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation Mayor Krishna Chakraborty were invited but had stayed away in protest. According to a senior Metro official, completion of the East-West corridor is likely to be delayed by up to one year due to an accident caused by an aquifer burst in the Bowbazar area during drilling operations in August 2019.
The 16.6-km-long rapid transit system, connecting the twin cities of Kolkata and Howrah, may be completed by mid-2022.