In an attempt to reduce the time as well as the distance for commuters in Kolkata travelling between the northern and southern fringes of the city, Union Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee inaugurated the southern extension of the Metro Railway here on Saturday.

Addressing the inaugural function, Ms. Banerjee called the Metro “the pride of Kolkata” and added that the southward extension would add another feather to its cap.

The 8.657-km-route-length extension project was sanctioned by her during her earlier tenure as Railway Minister in 1999-2000. This stretch, however, is constructed on an elevated structure against the underground pathway of the previous route.

Out of the six commissioned stations on the extended route, four will be operational covering a distance 5.887 km. Ms. Banerjee expected that the construction of the remaining part would be completed shortly.

Lauding her for giving a “new impetus and direction” to the Metro through the extension project, Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi pointed out that such extensions of the Metro network are “desirable at a time when roads are almost clogged with traffic and pollution levels are on the rise”.

The Metro authorities claimed that travelling from Dumdum, the northernmost station, to the newly-built Kavi Nazrul station would now take only 41 minutes against at least two hours by road during peak hours.

Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee was also present and he commended Ms. Banerjee for speeding up the extension project.

Ms. Banerjee also announced a host of projects to be undertaken by the Metro Railway in near future. Besides promising to connect several places in the South 24 Parganas with the city by a “ring-railway network”, she pledged that the Metro would build a 75-bed hospital on land available with in the city and name it after renowned film director Tapan Sinha.

She also declared that a “world-class stadium” would be built by railway authorities in the city dedicated to internationally-acclaimed film director Satyajit Ray.

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