When disaster struck Kolkata, owing to collapse of the under construction Vivekanada flyover at Bowbazar, Mamata Banerjee lost no time in seeking Railway’s assistance to clear up the massive pile of over 500 tonnes of twisted steel girders, concrete, and rubble.
Having been at its helm for no less than two stints, she had immense faith in their capabilities for dealing with such dire emergencies. RVNL (Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd), a PSU under the ministry of railways already engaged in construction of various phases of the Kolkata Metro promptly came to city’s aid by inducting all available resources of men and machines to complete the job in a record two weeks.
With a pan India presence, RVNL has a team of no less than 27 chief project managers located at various cities.
It is now poised to complete the vital task of providing better connectivity for citizens of Kolkata, with a quantum jump in Kolkata Metro’s network by almost 50 km.
A 17 km long Joka-BBD Bagh line via Majerhat at a cost of Rs 2,913 crore, 32 km long Dumdum Airport-New Garia line costing about Rs 4,260 crore and a 4 km Noapara-Barangar-Dakshineshwar line costing Rs 465 crore are all in advance stages of construction, likely to be commissioned as soon as some of the impediments get removed.
With a view to enhance passenger experience through innovative design and planning, RVNL, has optimized light fittings and air-conditioning systems. Using special 3D lighting software it gets the best position, angle, location of the fittings etc. to obtain desired lux levels. It also helps select the colour of the wall, roof, floor, granite etc. to obtain optimum light reflection factor, thereby saving on power consumption.
Energy saving LED lights are automatically dimmed whenever the system senses low occupancy, while a special software calculates the air-conditioning load taking into account even the thickness of floor, roof, presence of main beam, cross beam, pillar etc. under the roof on a real time basis.
In a major departure, the existing system of 33 kV (kilovolt) stepping down to 11 kV and then to 750 V DC (direct current) has been replaced by 33 kV being stepped down directly to 750 V DC, reducing the cost for receiving sub-station (RSS) by a whopping Rs 300 crores.
Steel for the third rail in the existing system has been replaced by aluminum, saving energy by reducing resistance losses. An engineering challenge posed by the need to cross under no less than seven EHV (extra high voltage) and 13 HV (high voltage) overhead lines in the approach to Joka Depot was overcome by following a route along an existing canal.
Presently, RVNL has its order book bulging with projects worth nearly R34,000 crore of which about Rs 13,000 crore projects are under execution, while about R6,700 crore worth of projects are under planning and development.
Projects adversely affected or held up for land acquisition, law and order and other issues are worth Rs 6,600 crore, while projects costing about Rs 4,900 crore are awaiting clearances from the centre and states governments, shifting of utilities, etc. Wheels of bureaucracy still turn slowly at their own sedate pace!
Unfortunately in this respect Kolkata has proved to be a rather difficult nut to crack and progress of the three metro lines vital for a quantum jump are held up for a variery of reasons ranging from, a simple removal of hoardings by KMDA (Kolkata Metro Development Authority), to extension of a bridge, removal of a fish market etc. for traffic diversion, to a major job of removal of 350 hutments of Kamarhati and Baranagar municipalities for last 5 years!
Perhaps this is the right time for Mamata Banerjee, who has romped home with a thumping majority for another stint as chief minister, to reward RVNL for its timely help in clearing up the Bowbazar mess and order a prompt removal of all impediments in RVNL’s path to enable it to add 53 km to the existing 25 km of metro line, bringing succour to millions of commuters of Kolkata-the city of joy !
The author is a former member of the Railway Board