The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Court frown on crater routes
- Panel finds tram-track roads hazardous

Calcutta High Court on Tuesday flashed the red light on several key city stretches through which tram tracks run, making them roads to avoid.

The cause for a division bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice Asit Kumar Bishi to step on the pedal was a report furnished by a committee of lawyers, set up by the court to oversee the condition of roads with tram tracks.

The bench directed state chief secretary Asok Gupta to file a report within a fortnight on the Calcutta Tramways Company (CTC) plea that it needed at least Rs 535 crore to repair the terror tracks.

Acting Chief Justice Kabir and Justice Bishi also send copies of the watchdog committee's report to finance minister Asim Dasgupta and transport minister Subhas Chakraborty.

'There are several roads full of craters, and unworthy of the plying of vehicles,' observed the committee, headed by Milan Bhattacharya.

The lawyer, along with five other members of the committee, had visited certain city roads with tram tracks and submitted the report to court.

This followed the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) refusal to repair roads through which such tracks run, as they were fell under the CTC's purview.

The tramway said it could embark on a repair drive provided it was given Rs 535 crore, the committee stated in its report.

'In some of the areas with tram tracks' plying of vehicles has become dangerous,' the report stated.

It also pointed out that during inspection, the committee had observed that in some congested areas, the sewerage system required a complete overhaul.

In areas like Royd Street, Rajabazar, College Street and Chitpur, roads require immediate repair work by the CMC, the committee stressed.

In the second phase, the committee will scout roads under the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) and file another report before the court.

The high court had appointed the committee after agencies like the CMDA and the public works department (PWD) informed the judges that it had carried out the court's order and repaired roads under their jurisdiction.

The CMC and the tramway, however, did not submit compliance reports.

While CMC claimed that roads in its domain could not be repaired due to poor maintenance of tram tracks by the CTC, the tram company pleaded lack of funds as cause for lack of repair work.

Idris Ali and Sreemoyee Mitra, two advocates of the high court, had moved the public interest litigation (PIL) demanding immediate repair of city roads.

The court, on the basis of the PIL, had directed the different agencies to repair damaged roads immediately.

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