By Arnab Mitra
The Kolkata Metro is the first underground railway system of India. It started its services on October 24,1984 and for over 30 years, it has served the Calcuttans with pride and prestige.
Kolkata is one of the three cities that have metro railway connections in India, but the city’s lifeline lacks infrastructure and technology and it still continues its services with shattered ‘Non-AC’ coaches. Less has been done, so far, to modernize the metro and uplift it from its present deteriorating condition.
In an interaction with NewsGram, the Chief Public Relations Officer, Eastern Railways, R. N. Mahapatra discussed the various facts related to the predicament of Kolkata Metro in comparison with the other metro services in India.
ARNAB MITRA: Kolkata Metro lacks ‘infrastructure and technology’, despite it being under the Ministry of Railways. Why did it happen and what is the remedy?
R.N. Mahapatra: The Kolkata Metro was set up in 1984. It is quite impossible to modernize the Kolkata Metro as the technology used to construct it was of that time. There is also a financial constraint as the Central Government is giving priority to Delhi, as it is the National Capital. But, we are trying to provide ‘a comfortable journey’ to the denizens as we will get 3 more AC coaches by the end of this year.
AM: Out of 16 AC coaches, 6 were withdrawn. And the running AC coaches have also encountered various problems.
R.N. Mahapatra: The AC coaches were withdrawn as they encountered various technical problems during service and we have already sent them to Perambur (Chennai). The running coaches too have some problems and we will solve it in time.
AM: People have readily borne with the increased fares in the expectation of getting world class facilities. When will you be able to fulfill the people’s expectations?
R.N. Mahapatra: It is hard to comment. But the work is in progress in Salt Lake-Howrah sector and the Calcuttans will get a world-class facility by the end of 2018.
AM: The problem of Duttabad was recently solved after Minister of State for Urban Development, Babul Supriyo intervened in that matter. Can you blame the state government for the delay?
R.N. Mahapatra: The land is a subject of State government, but I will not comment on this matter as it is a centre-state issue.
AM: We spoke with different commuters. They expressed their dissent on the issues of suicides and poor services. The people also blame the state government for the delay of the Salt-Lake-Howrah project.
R.N. Mahapatra: Suicide is a major issue. In the year 2014-15, approximately 100 people committed suicide on the metro tracks. As far as I know, the services are absolutely fine. As I said earlier, the land is a state subject, I don’t want to comment on this matter.
AM: Since 2010, Kolkata Metro has come the Ministry of Railways. Previously, it was under KMRDA. How has this affected the organization?
R.N. Mahapatra: It is hard to answer. But I don’t find any changes after it was included as the twenty-third corridor of Indian Railways.
AM: Can you imagine Kolkata Metro becoming a ‘joy ride’ for the people of Kolkata?
R. N. Mahapatra: We are determined to regain the prestige of the Kolkata Metro and as one of the governing members of the Kolkata Metro Railways, I assure the people, that in the coming years, we will turn it into a world class facility.