The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Track the fixer: Me' He

After every bone-jarring jerk on a road ravaged by tram tracks, the collective groan from the rattled commuter's lips is: 'Who will repair these, and when'

Finding an answer to this seemingly straightforward question is proving almost as difficult as negotiating the nightmare stretches in north and central Calcutta.

There is no move to repair the peril pathways even eight days after Calcutta High Court directed the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government to respond to Calcutta Tramway Company's repeated requests for funds to repair tracks.

Between Tuesday and Wednesday, Metro posed the Calcutta commuter's question ' 'who will repair the tracks, and when' ' to the chief minister and three of his senior colleagues. They all played pass-the-buck, with cryptic call-divert comments like: 'ask him' you better talk to him' find out from him.'

Unlike mayor Subrata Mukherjee, who has made it clear he will not spend a paisa from the civic coffers for repair of roads with tram tracks, Team Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is doing little but playing dumb charade.

What was the government's stance on repair of tram tracks, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was asked on Tuesday while leaving Writers' Buildings. Having been bowled by Steve Waugh's yorker a few hours earlier, the chief minister was taking no chances. 'Ask Asok (Bhattacharya),' was all he had to say.

Next stop, the urban development minister. Bhattacharya, also fresh from a round with the former Australian skipper, steered the query smartly towards a colleague: 'Ask the transport minister. The matter concerns his department.'

On Wednesday, transport minister Subhas Chakraborty stepped out to the challenge in characteristic pinch-hitter style. After admitting to 'our responsibility in this regard', he declared that his department could not take up 'major repair work unless a large amount of funds is provided'.

So, target Asim Dasgupta. 'Talk to the finance minister. He is the only person who can explain why the people of Calcutta have to suffer damaged tracks and why the road-repair programme is being delayed,' roared Chakraborty.

The finance minister was quick to flick the question right back to his colleague: 'The transport minister will know about this.'

When told that minister Chakraborty had pointed fingers at him, Dasgupta called for light to signal draw of stumps: 'I am very busy with the budget now. I know nothing about the issue' I have been busy with the planning board meeting and I haven't given thought to the subject (of roads ravaged by tram tracks) yet.'

Meanwhile, the death traps on tram routes beckon.

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