Come Pujas, and VIP Road, the city’s route to the airport, turns into a nightmare for motorists and those wanting to take a flight out. The blame rests squarely on popular pujas along the road and the rush of pandal-hoppers at Baguiati and Kestopur.
Almost all the domestic and international airlines operating out of the city issued a travel advisory on Tuesday, asking passengers booked on their flights to report at the airport at least a few hours in advance or run the risk of missing flights.
“We request passengers to come to the airport much ahead of the normal reporting time on the Puja days,” said K.G. Rajput, Indian Airlines spokesman.
A senior police officer said the puja organised by Sreebhumi Sporting Club, under patronage of Trinamul Congress leader Sujit Bose, has been a major traffic-stopper on VIP Road for over a decade. This year, more than 300 policemen, along with members of the National Volunteer Force and the NCC, will be deployed to control the crowds on VIP Road. Bose said that apart from the usual police deployment, his club will put 100 volunteers on the road to help out.
Apart from Sreebhumi Sporting, other major traffic-stoppers are the pujas by Shastribagan Sporting Club and Nirvik Sangha, on either side of VIP Road, at Joramandir, near Baguiati.
At Kestopur, too, the pujas organised by Hanapara Sporting Club and Mastarda Smriti Sangha, on streets leading to VIP Road, pose a major problem for motorists. Pandal-hoppers wanting to get to either side spill on to VIP Road, posing traffic hazards.
Another Durga puja that has turned quite popular off VIP Road is the ‘live’ deity, organised by the Prajapita Brahmakumaris at Bangur Avenue.
North 24-Parganas additional superintendent of police Ajay Nand, who will oversee traffic arrangements on VIP Road during the Pujas, said pandal-hoppers will not be allowed to cross VIP Road except from designated points. “Only major intersections, like Lake Town, Bangur Avenue, Dum Dum Park, Kestopur, Baguiati and Joramandir will be open to pedestrians,” Nand said.
The spurt in the number of cars is cause for concern. “Over 50,000 vehicles ply on VIP Road between 6 pm and midnight on the festive days. So, we fear a logjam at the intersections when vehicles are stopped by the police to allow pandal-hoppers to pass,” said inspector P.K. Nandi of Gouripur traffic guard at Birati.