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Popularity pretext to block the Bypass

THE CHARGES: The Bosepukur Sitala Mandir Sarbojanin Durga Puja will block one of the two lanes of the busy Rashbehari Avenue connector to the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass throughout the Pujas, if not longer. Calcutta Police has, therefore, decided to allow only the east-bound traffic, travelling towards the Bypass. West-bound vehicles will have to take any of the alternative routes to reach any point around or beyond Gariahat, causing a detour of several kilometres.

6As in the past, the dozen-plus loudspeakers to be installed all around the pandal will violate the decibel norms stipulated by the West Bengal Pollution Control Board

6Spare a thought for residents of the area whose only access to their place of work, the market and the world is the Connector

6This is, perhaps, the only puja which required the direct intervention of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee (prompted by chief patron and local MLA Rabin Deb), after both South 24-Parganas police and the fire brigade refused permission to the organisers

DEB’S DEFENCE: Let me clarify first that I am neither a member of the club organising the puja nor am I in the puja committee. And I am not in this as a CPM leader; I am here because I am the MLA from Ballygunge and the place where this puja is being held falls within my constituency. I like to associate myself with social welfare activities here.

We have learnt from last year’s mistakes. I admit that the organisers were taken aback by the crowd in 2001 and they were at a loss about how to tackle the problem. The traffic snarl in the area was because we had no way of predicting the crowd and, therefore, did not adopt any pre-emptive measures.

This year, things will be different. The decision to block one half of the road (the southern wing) will, instead of making things more difficult, ease flow of traffic. We will barricade this section for better crowd management. Some residents of the area have objected to the roadblock. We asked them with folded hands to bear with us for the cause of the millions who come here.

But I have told the organisers to ensure that decibel limits are not violated. I want to ensure a hassle-free Puja for everyone and all my actions are geared towards this sole objective.

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