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Car park in reverse gear

Meant to be thrown open in 2003, the Lindsay Street Parkomat remains a mirage, and a muddy one at that.

Now comes another promise ' 70 per cent of the pedestrian plaza will be thrown open by the Pujas ' in a long list of promises not kept by the builders and the civic authorities.

'We will throw open 70 per cent of the Lindsay Street pedestrian plaza by Durga puja and the entire parking lot by December,' said Simplex Projects Ltd area manager Aroop Chaudhury.

Sounds familiar' Asia's 'first underground hi-tech parking plaza', was, after all, meant to be an eight-month project. Now, two years down the road, there is no real sign of the parking lot in front of New Market becoming operational.

And a Puja target seems quite unrealistic. Things to be done in four weeks are :

4Plantation of palm trees that will form the periphery of the pedestrian plaza; the trees will be transplanted along with other flowering shrubs

Construction of a fountain

Laying paved walking paths on either side of the plaza

Lighting

Setting up of a coffee shop.

Mayor Bikash Bhattacharya was the first to admit that the December deadline did not seem feasible.

'I'll be glad if the civic body's joint-venture project with Simplex becomes ready for commissioning by Poila Baisakh (mid-April) next year,' observed the mayor.

This was echoed by Nilangshu Bose, director-general, projects and developments, Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC). 'So much work will be extremely difficult to complete before the Pujas,' he pointed out.

Citing reasons for the delay of the Rs 18-crore joint-venture project, Simplex blamed it mostly on the lack of coordination among agencies.

'I admit there have been delays, but there are reasons for it. Our work was essentially underground and it involved the relaying of drainage pipes and cables,' said B.K. Mundra, chairman, Simplex Projects.

Mundra added that in getting the work executed, Simplex had to rely on the CMC's water supply and sewerage wing, power utility CESC and Calcutta Telephones.

'There were even demonstrations that held up work for a full month last year,' claimed Mundra. 'These are reasons beyond our control.'

A lot of pending work pertains to the parking lot.

Excavation of 50,000 cubic ft of earth under Lindsay Street, close to the New Market clock tower, remains to be carried out. Then, the sheet piling has to be completed, and the machinery and software from Holland put in place.

To further push back the deadline, excavation work will remain stalled from next week till after Diwali.

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