23rd February onwards, you can take a metro to reach the famed Dakshineshwar Kali temple on the outer fringes of Kolkata. PM Narendra Modi inaugurated the final 4.2 km extension of the old North-South metro from Noapara metro station to Dakshineshwar on 22nd February. The stretch will be open to the public from 23rd February.
Though the stretch was relatively short, it took ten years to be built. The main problems were land acquisition, for which the project was on hold for more than seven years. But as soon as the state government resolved all land acquisition issues, it took hardly three years to construct the viaducts and finalize the stations. 2 stations, namely Dakshineshwar and Baranagar Road, are added to the North-South metro.
The stretch was equally crucial for the local commuters as the nearby Tallah road bridge was closed for traffic in 2019, resulting in congestion of remaining roads in the area. The metro line passes adjacent to the Eastern Railway Howrah Bardhaman chord line from Dum Dum junction to Dakshineshwar. The Eastern Railway tracks have few local trains; thus, the metro will be a boon for the daily commuters from and to the city’s northern fringes. The 4.2 km journey will take place in just 3 minutes, including the halt timings at Noapara and Baranagar.
Metro trains can interchange tracks between Baranagar and Dakshineshwar metro stations as the line abruptly ends in Dakshineshwar metro station. There is no provision for further extension of the North-South metro as of now. However, the line will have an interchange at the Noapara station where the under-construction New Barrackpur-Noapara line will meet the existing North-South rail line.
Now you can visit both the Kalighat Kali temple and that at Dakshineshwar using the same metro, which will now take less than an hour. The entire journey from Kavi Subhas to New Garia will cost just Rs. 25, which was the maximum fare previously. Being owned by the Indian Railways, the Kolkata Metro is the cheapest and one of the busiest metro in the country.
Moreover, the residents of the congested Bally and Belur area of Howrah can now easily access the metro just by crossing the Vivekananda Setu. The residents of Sodepur, Belgharia, and those coming from the north via the Barrackpur Trunk road, can board the metro at the Baranagar metro station. The daily ridership is expected to increase by at least one lakhs after the Covid-19 situation normalizes.
Kolkata metro is one of the slowest expanding metros in the country. While some lines have issues related to land acquisition, the others’ progress has been plodding due to bureaucracy, inadequate fund release from the Indian Railways, technical and construction problems, lack of systematic approach. Being one of the biggest metropolitan in the country, Kolkata needs its metro network to expand at the earliest.
The Phoolbagan-Howrah Maidan stretch, the Joka-Majherhat line, and the New Garia-Airport line remain under construction for ages. The Noapara-Airport line is also far from completion. It’s time the Railways and the State Government give utmost priority to the most needed stretches of the Kolkata metro, which is the oldest and the first metro to be operated in the country.
For more details about how it will benefit commuters – click here.
Written by – Himadri Paul