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Flyovers rise beyond mayor’s reach
- Buddha says Subrata’s civic body lacks expertise, hands high roads to CMDA

The fight for flyovers has taken a dramatic turn, with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee stepping in to resolve the government vs Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) high-road row. Slamming mayor Subrata Mukherjee for staking ‘custodial claim’ to the Gariahat flyover and all others under construction, the chief minister has handed over high-road rights to the CMDA.

Bhattacharjee signed the flyover fiat on Thursday and asked the transport department to invite the CMDA to take charge as soon as possible. Justifying his decision to bring the flyovers under CMDA control, the chief minister stated in his order that the CMC has neither constructed such big flyovers, nor does it have the expertise to maintain them.

“As the CMDA has vast experience and expertise in handling big structures, it is the right agency to take custody of the flyovers,’’ the order stated.

Stung by the decision, mayor Mukherjee described it as “unjust” and threatened to make the roads beneath the flyovers “out of bounds”. He let fly on Friday: “We shall not allow any agency to undertake any work on these roads, since they belong to the CMC. Let them earn money from the flyovers by selling advertising space. The CMC, too, will earn by utilising the space below the flyovers.’’ The CMC has already received offers worth several lakhs for billboard space on the flyovers.

Mukherjee has been clamouring for CMC control over the flyovers, being constructed by the Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners (HRBC) under the Japan Bank for International Cooperation’s (JBIC) supervision. “As the flyovers are being built over CMC roads, they should be regarded as CMC property and the government must hand them over to us,” he had argued.

The mayor had also sought Asok Bhattacharya’s intervention, but the municipal affairs minister had deflected the dispute into the transport department’s court. Transport minister Subhash Chakraborty then referred the matter to the chief minister. “Since the matter is very sensitive, I thought it would be wise to leave it to the chief minister. As the head of the government, he is the best judge,” Chakraborty said.

Of the four flyovers coming up in the city, the one at Gariahat is complete and those at Park Street and A.J.C. Bose Road are scheduled to be ready for use by the end of this year. According to the agreement between the state government and the JBIC, the government will have to take responsibility for their maintenance.

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