The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fair is foul for Bypass bound
- Speed-up steps to beat traffic snarl

When the Maidan's fairs move to the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass this winter, an evening out could turn out to be more frustration than fun.

With thousands of visitors expected to flock to the permanent exhibition space near Science City, city planners feel the area, 'no substitute for Esplanade', won't be able to bear the traffic burden.

Realising the 'enormity of the problem', traffic planners are reworking road space from the Park Circus connector to the Bypass.

The biggest change on the anvil is a flyover, to start near bridge no. four at Park Circus and end near Chingrihata. It is to run behind the site of the permanent fair ground, merging with the main road just before Chingrihata.

To manage the crowd better at the Parama Island, the roads near Science City would be connected through pedestrian underpasses.

Fairs previously held on the Maidan adjacent to the Victoria Memorial would be shifted this winter to the Bypass, following a court order.

'Traffic will be thrown out of gear if these changes are not made immediately,' admitted a senior government official associated with the project. 'Since the flyover covers a huge area, those heading for Salt Lake and beyond can avoid the whole fair ground stretch,' he added.

Currently, at least 7,000 vehicles roll through this length of the Bypass during morning and evening rush hour. Officials expect this number to swell four to five times during a major fair.

Over 100,000 people attend the Book Fair daily, which would lead to 'complete chaos' at the Parama Island, fear officials. 'Short term measures have to be figured out to deal with the load as well,' said Sabyasachi Sen, commerce and industries secretary.

'Shuttle buses are likely to be introduced while the fairs are held,' an official said.

With Salt Lake and airport-bound VIP traffic passing through this region regularly, authorities are speeding up damage control. A meeting at Writers' Buildings about steps to tide over this season has been scheduled for this week.

'Dispersal is a significant issue. There is no Metro, nor many bus routes, in the Bypass area at present,' pointed out Alapan Bandopadhyay, chief executive officer, Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA).

Officials of the CMDA and commerce and industries department met recently to discuss the impending problem and ways around it.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has reportedly asked the CMDA to prepare a report on solutions, a draft of which is ready. It suggests involving traffic management and urban planning agencies to create a final blueprint.

The state government has formed a task force to chalk out an organised traffic management plan for the area. It will include the executive director of WBIDC, CMDA's director-general of planning and development, chief traffic and transportation engineer of the transport department, deputy commissioner of traffic police, and superintendent of South 24-Parganas.

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