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Railway Minister Anticipates Opening of Howrah Maidan-Esplanade Stretch of East-West Metro by December

Railway Minister expects Howrah Maidan-Esplanade stretch of East-West Metro to open soon, marking a milestone under Hooghly River.

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Howrah, June 22: Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw announced on Wednesday that the Howrah Maidan to Esplanade stretch of the East-West Metro, which runs under the Hooghly River, is expected to be opened to the public soon after all necessary precautions have been taken. A railway spokesperson later confirmed that the stretch is anticipated to be opened by December this year.

“The stretch is expected to be opened soon, after completing all necessary safety tests and being inspected by the Commissioner of Railway Safety… This under-river tunnel is a milestone,” stated Vaishnaw during a press conference held at Howrah Maidan Metro station, just before embarking on an inspection of the tunnel situated 16 meters below the river.

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The minister commenced his inspection from Howrah Maidan station, conducting a trolley inspection through the tunnel until reaching Howrah station. The spokesperson for Metro Railway revealed that Howrah station will be the deepest metro station in India, located 33 meters below the surface with four underground levels encompassing an area of over 5 lakh square feet. Vaishnaw concluded his inspection at Esplanade station on the opposite side of the river and expressed satisfaction with the progress of the entire stretch.

The railway spokesperson further conveyed that the minister expressed his optimism to railway officials following the inspection, stating that the Howrah Maidan-Esplanade stretch is expected to be open to the public by December 2023.

On April 12, Kolkata Metro made history as a train successfully traversed a tunnel under the Hooghly River, marking a significant milestone for the country. Vaishnaw affirmed that ample funds have been allocated for all metro projects in Kolkata, and the central government has been closely monitoring the progress of the works.

“When it comes to all projects on various fronts – law and order, land acquisition, etc. – we want to continue the work with the support of the state government in every way,” the minister emphasized when questioned about the projected completion deadline for projects like Airport-New Garia and the opening of Metro services in the Ruby Crossing-New Garia stretch.

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He further highlighted the substantial allocation of Rs 11,900 crore for executing various railway projects in the state, including Metro Railways. Vaishnaw contrasted this allocation with the meager funding provided before 2014. Once operational, the Metro corridor will connect the twin cities of Howrah and Kolkata, accommodating an estimated 6.7 lakh passengers daily.

Addressing concerns regarding the aquifer burst at Bowbazar in central Kolkata in 2019, as well as two subsequent water leakage incidents in 2022, which resulted in delays in completing the project, Vaishnaw assured, “We are continuously engaging in discussions with the residents of that area and devising alternative safety measures.”

“I have instructed the General Manager to conduct further meetings with the local residents,” he added. Of the total 16.6 km length of the East-West Metro, the underground corridor constitutes 10.8 km, stretching from Howrah Maidan to Phoolbagan stations.

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