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All-party pothole haul-up

Calcutta High Court on Monday tarred political rivals with the same brush for failing to tar the roads and put an end to the tortuous ride through town.

Both the CPM government and the Trinamul Congress civic body found themselves in the line of judicial fire for turning a blind eye to the potholed streets and focusing, instead, on less important matters.

'It is surprising that your clients find time to make elaborate arrangements for the inauguration of Star Theatre, hold or attend political and election rallies, but appear hard-pressed for time when it comes to repairing city roads,' observed the division bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice Asit Kumar Bishi.

'You all are taking the matter lightly. This is a serious matter. Lakhs of people are suffering due to the poor condition of city roads,' the bench told advocate-general Balai Ray and Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) lawyer Alok Ghosh.

Justice Kabir also took note of the absence of urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya in court.

In response to a court order, the presence of the chairman of the CMDA was mandatory. 'How does your department work' Why could the CMDA chairman (Asok Bhattacharya) not be intimated of the court's order' demanded Justice Kabir, when Ray informed the court that the order could not be conveyed to Bhattacharya as he was away in north Bengal for the Siliguri municipal poll.

Ray, appearing for the CMDA, however, assured the court that five major roads maintained by agency would be repaired by end-October. These are:

The Eastern Metropolitan Bypass

Its Rashbehari connector

Its Park Circus connector

Baisnabghata-Patuli Road

Canal East and West roads.

'Are you all not suffering for the bad condition of the roads' We all are suffering,' Justice Kabir told Ray.

'Yes, everyone is suffering in this situation,' replied the advocate-general.

The court order regarding repair of city roads was based on a public interest litigation moved by lawyers Idris Ali and Shreemoyee Mitra.

In an order last week, the court had asked the departmental heads of the CMDA, CMC and the public works department (PWD) to appear before it with status reports on the roads maintained by them.

Refusing to accept the affidavit filed by the CMC, the division bench said: 'In your affidavit, you have mentioned the names of the roads maintained by you, and their measurements. What about their condition' What has been done to repair the roads' the judges demanded.

PWD principal secretary Kalyani Chowdhury, CMC commissioner Debashis Som and CMDA executive officer Alapan Bandyopadhyay were present in court during the hearing.

Appearing for the PWD, Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya prayed for time.

'The report (on the roads) is ready. But I want to go through it before placing it before the court,' Bhattacharya said. The court granted him time till October 14.

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