13 Sep 2012 10:44 AM from CapEx
Suparna Chattopadhyay

Kolkata Metro’s land acquisition annulled by High Court

Metro station at Salt Lake-Howrah Maidan route faces hurdle

The Kolkata High Court, has ruled the land acquired by West Bengal government’s transport department at B B Ganguly Street and Mohim Chandra Das Sarani in BowBazar, Kolkata as invalid. The land was acquired by the civic officials for constructing a metro station for the east-west metro corridor project on the Salt Lake-Howrah Maidan route. The verdict was given by Justice Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya on a writ petition filed by Central Calcutta Citizens Welfare Association. The petition was filed in 2010 challenging the proceeding for acquisition of a number of premises on the B B Ganguly Street and Mohim Chandra Das Sarani for the metro rail project.

In his order, Justice Bhattacharya stated that the entire land acquisition proceedings concerning the property stood lapsed. The court observed that the consequences for non-publication of compensation award within the statutory period as provided in Section 11A of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, would follow in the case.

The Land Acquisition Act, 1894, states that compensation for acquired land should be published within 2 years from the date of declaration of the land acquired. In this case the land acquisition declaration was made on 27 August 2009, whereas the compensation award payable to the land owners was published by the collector on 15 November 2011. The High Court also ordered restoration of the possession of the petitioners within 2 weeks from the date of order. Failure of which within the stipulated time will make the state government liable to pay the damages.

In June 2012, the state transport department had proposed a realignment in the metro rail route, because of the ongoing land acquisition problem. The realignment was suggested from Sealdah to Brabourne road through Subodh Mullick Square, Esplanade and Dalhousie Square. However, the realignment plan was opposed by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the funding agency for the project. JICA stated that, the change in route will cause delay in execution of the project which will lead to cost escalation. With the new proposed route the 16 km stretch will increase by a kilometre. The funding agency has been roped in to lend Rs.22 billion for the project.

The Rs.48 billion project was proposed in June 2007 and was to be completed by December 2012. Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation Ltd is implementing the project. According to a press release by the Minister of State for Urban Development- Saugata Roy on 2 September 2012, Phase I of the project (Salt Lake Sector to Sealdah) will get commissioned by April 2015 and Phase II (the entire corridor) by October 2016.