After a delay of several years, Kolkata Metro Rail Corp. finally expects to complete India’s first underwater metro by March 2022.
The Managing Director at KMRC (Kolkata Metro Rail Corp.), Manas Sarkar, said that a final installment of 200 million rupees is required to be sanctioned by the Indian Railway Board in order to complete the project. A soft loan of 41.6 billion rupees from the Japan International Cooperation Agency helps fund 48.5% of the project.
The Kolkata metro which started in 1984 with a North-South service, was planned to be expanded by 2014. But, India’s oldest metro faced many hurdles in the process of expanding its services. Many squatters posed as an obstacle in clearing the route for the development of the metro route. The cost of the project shot up from 49 Billion rupees for 17 km to 86 Billion rupees for 14 km.
“About 40% of total transport demand will be tackled by these two metro services,” Manas Sarkar said in an interview at his office in Kolkata. He further added, “It will be a relief for environmental pollution and the city should be much more decongested.”
About 20% of Kolkata’s population, which is about 900,000, will be ferried by the upcoming metro on a daily basis. The route involves a 520-meter underwater tunnel that will be crossed by the metro within 1 min.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency loan which has an interest rate between 1.2% to 1.6%, will be repaid by Kolkata Metro Rail Corp. over 30 years after an initial six-year moratorium. India’s Railway Ministry owns 74% of the East-West Metro project and 26% is owned by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
“We don’t anticipate any further cost escalation now,” Sarkar said.