Monday, May 20, 2013
Last Updated: 20 May 15:27 PM IST
15 November 2012
KOLKATA, 15 NOV: The opening of the New Garia halt station (in sns photo) of Eastern Railway, which will facilitate inter-connectivity between suburban train services and the Metro rail, is being delayed as the Railway Board is unable to decide who should inaugurate the facility ~ a minister from the state or someone from the Centre.
The delay in opening the station is compelling thousands of commuters from Garia, Sonarpur, Laxmikantapur, Baruipur to undergo immense hardships in accessing the Metro network from the surface rail and vice-versa.
At present, some 5,500-odd commuters avail the Metro from Kavi Subhash station daily but for this, they are required to travel over a km on foot or rickshaw to reach the station. Opening the station is likely to benefit at least 50,000 commuters.
The Railway Board's indecision has already delayed the inauguration by about a month and a half, and officials here are clueless when the facility can finally be put to use. The clearance of the Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS), a must for starting new railway stations/lines, came in the second half of September.
There was wide speculation that the halt station will be inaugurated before Durga Puja, and then there had been talk of throwing it open on Diwali. But that has not happened.
Sources said the Railway Board's indecision on selecting an inaugurator stems from the fact that New Garia Halt station was a pet project of Miss Mamata Banerjee. She announced building the station on 7 October 2010 when inaugurating the Kavi Subhash Metro station as the Minister for Railways.
Metro Railway took up the work in April 2011 and completed the task in February this year at a cost Rs 12 crore. However, a CRS clearance for the station was delayed by about seven months due to design issues and absence of a loop line.
Initially, the Railway Board wanted to invite Miss Banerjee or some senior minister from her state Cabinet to inaugurate the station. But the situation changed after the Trinamul Congress pulled out from the UPA-II government on 18 September.
Since then, the Board has been dithering on the issue, as inviting Miss Banerjee or her colleagues to inaugurate the station may draw the wrath of the Congress leadership.
On the other hand, the power equations in the reshuffled Union Cabinet not being very clear as yet, the Board is not sure which Union minister it should call, if at all. Mr Adhir Ranjan Choudhury, the newly appointed Minister of State for Railways, is the prime contender.
While declining to share details, a senior railway official said the Railway Board was awaiting a go ahead from the office of the Railway Minister.
Mr Suchitta Kumar Das, the Divisional Railway Manager of Sealdah under whose jurisdiction the New Garia Halt station falls, said: "Till this evening I have no clue about the date of inauguration. So far we are concerned, we are fully prepared and have already posted two booking clerks for the station." He conceded that the inability to select an inaugurator could be the reason for the delay.
When contacted, the Railway Board's executive director (information and publicity), Chandralekha Mukherjee redirected the query to the Eastern Railway.