The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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A deadline too near
- Tram-track repair schedule in disarray, roads will not be motorable by Mahalaya

This is one Puja holiday that will not spell happiness for all those forced to undertake a nerve-wracking, bone-rattling ride through north and central Calcutta.

For, the tram-track repairs that have left several thoroughfares in a mess will remain pending ' for a Mahalaya to Kali puja break.

With Durga puja slated for the last week of September, the transport department has rescheduled ' rather pushed back by a month ' the tram-track repair schedule.

The Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners (HRBC) has started repairing 14 tram tracks that are in different stages of completion. Some stretches are ready, while work is in progress on some; some roads have just been dug up, while work is yet to begin on some .

According to the revised schedule, all dug-up stretches will have to be covered within September 15 and then cleaned in the next seven days to make them motorable by Mahalaya. There will be a 'cease work' from September 22 (Mahalaya) till October 21 (Kali puja).

Officials of the HRBC confirmed that repairs that have not yet started will remain suspended till mid-October. Dug-up portions will have to be 'filled with sand' to allow vehicular movement during the festive season.

'We have made it clear to the contractor to only dig up portions that can be fully completed within September 15. We will not allow them to keep the road dug up and cause traffic chaos during the Puja,' said transport secretary Sumantra Chowdhury.

According to transport department officials, the HRBC deadlines to complete work on different roads were not being met. For instance, the deadline for completion of work on Maniktala Main Road was June 15, but 'about 20 per cent of work' is pending. The HRBC has held out the assurance that the vital stretch between Maniktala and Kankurgachhi will be ready by September 15.

The fate of MG Road is far worse, with the deadline being August 15, but the work 40 per cent pending.

Work on Lenin Sarani, from Moulali to Raja Subodh Mullick Square (one side) has just kick-started and September 15 is a deadline too near.

Repair work on Rabindra Sarani (from MG Road crossing to BK Pal Avenue crossing) and Lenin Sarani (from Raja Subodh Mullick Square to Esplanade), that was to have started this month, has been suspended till post-Puja.

'We are trying our best to complete road repairs as far as possible before the Puja but at the same time, we do not want to put commuters in trouble by keeping the roads dug up and unfinished during the festive season. We would rather undertake some patchwork on select roads and resume repairs after the Puja,' HRBC officials said.

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