India’s first underwater metro in Kolkata is a promising factor for the city’s urban transportation.
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Trisha Ghosh, Pune

PM Modi is set to inaugurate India’s first underwater metro in Kolkata on Wednesday, March 6th. Constructed under the Hooghly River, it will connect the areas of Howrah Maidan and Esplanade. This will not only open up new possibilities for urban development and transportation but will also fulfill the ideation of a feat that dates back to the British era. 

The underwater metro aims to reduce traffic congestion and vehicular pollution in Kolkata. It will connect the East and West banks of the Hooghly River, from Salt Lake City to Howrah respectively. The project has been executed by the Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation. It stretches for 10.8 kilometres underground, with 5.75 kilometres remaining elevated. According to a report by Live Mint, this metro may cover up to 520 metres in a period of merely 45 seconds. 

The metro will also include six different stations. Three of these will be located underground. In particular, Howrah Metro Station will be the deepest metro station in the country, extending for 4.8 kilometres. All the stations are located strategically in Kolkata’s most important and busy areas so as to allow commuters fast and convenient travel for work, study, leisure, and all other activities alike.

Significantly, Kolkata had the honour of having India’s first metro ever in 1984. However, ideas for an underwater railway system date back to the British era. As per BBC, engineer Harley Dalrymple-Hay had ideas for a tunnel beneath the Hooghly River. The plan never came to fruition owing to issues with funding and the city’s land. 

In April last year, the Kolkata Metro achieved a major milestone by running a train under the river via the tunnel. The metro holds an Automatic Train Operation system that allows efficient functioning and requires only a button press for the train to move on to the next platform.

At present, the connection between Esplanade and Sealdah still needs completion. However, the connection between Salt Lake Sector V and Sealdah has begun operations already. The whole connection between the East and West banks of the Hooghly is expected to be completed and start operations by June or July this year. If successful, this development will be a sustainable solution for air pollution, contribute to rapidly increasing technological advancements in India and transform Kolkata’s urban landscape.