The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Buddha waves traffic wand

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has vowed to transform the city's traffic scenario into the best in the country. And he's promised not to take too long over it.

But like a whole lot of measures relating to traffic announced in the past, this, too, could never travel from the drawing board to the streets.

Bhattacharjee said on Wednesday the plan to overhaul the traffic system in the city would be announced in November, to kick off the celebration for 150 years of Calcutta Police.

'Things are changing. Foreign investors are arriving, trade is looking up and the city is fast emerging as a vital hub. We need a facelift. The thrust will be on traffic, since we need to ensure free and fast movement of vehicles,' the chief minister said.

'I have asked the police commissioner to draw up a detailed plan on how to execute the project. We want to gift this new improved system to Calcuttans when the city police steps into its 150th year of existence,' he added.

Bhattacharjee was addressing an audience at the Lalbazar police headquarters, where he inaugurated two helplines ' one for senior citizens and the other for all.

'I am not asking you to replicate the traffic system of New York or London,' he told senior officers in the audience.

'We have several impediments here. Traffic density is very high. The road space is just about six per cent for around seven to eight million people to travel. More people come in from the neighbouring districts by day. Still, we can be the best in the country. We should be No. 1,' he said.

Bhattacharjee, however, didn't leave it entirely to the cops to ring in this change. The state government, too, will chip in. 'The state government will surely help. The chambers of commerce will also contribute towards this change. It will be holistic approach,' Bhattacharjee added.

The announcement of the lofty ambition came on a day the city police launched 51 booths across the city, as part of its community policing initiative. Bhattacharjee inaugurated the first such booth at the police headquarters. Officers will interact with the public from these booths, which have been set up at prominent junctions across the city.

'At night, people tend to feel insecure when they fail to spot a policeman on the street. The booths will be manned by cops and will display the name and the telephone number of the nearest police station,' said police commissioner Prasun Mukherjee. A total of 84 such booths will be set up in the city, he added.

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