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Half-year wait for street fix

Calcutta will have to wait another six months for the roller-coaster ride down city roads to end.

The public works department (PWD), the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) and the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) assured Calcutta High Court on Friday that they would try their best to set the streets right as soon as possible. But the realistic road-repair target is April 2005.

'The court should grant us three months so that we can repair the roads that are under our control,' began Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, appearing for the PWD.

The CMDA then informed the court through its counsel that 'five city roads, including the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass and Rashbehari connector, would be repaired by the end of this month'.

CMC lawyer Aloke Ghosh finally said: 'As per budget allocation by the state government, my client is confident of improving the condition of the roads maintained by it within six months.'

The division bench comprising Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice Asit Kumar Bishi ' that had earlier hauled up the state and civic agencies for not taking the issue seriously ' expressed satisfaction over the submission of the parties.

'We have taken up the public interest litigation' as all sections of people are facing hardships due to the bad condition of the city roads. We have no intention of interfering in the jurisdiction of the administration,' emphasised Justice Kabir.

On the basis of the advice of the respondents, the court also directed the Calcutta Tramways Company (CTC) and the Calcutta Port Trust to become parties to the case.

One of the questions raised by the high court ' 'who is responsible for the maintenance and repair of city roads' ' remains the point of contention in Salt Lake, where 45 km of road length (out of 110 km) is in poor condition.

Webel managing director S.K. Mitra said it was the duty of the municipality, as it was collecting taxes from the ITpreneurs, but municipality chairman Dilip Gupta passed the buck right back.

'The plots in Sector V are owned by the urban development department and Webel has allotted plots to different units at a premium. So, the municipality will not take any responsibility of road repair,' he said.

Urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya chose not to take sides. 'It is not important which agency will repair the roads' the roads in Sector V need urgent repairs and at least Rs 25 crore is required for that. I am trying my best'

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