| The death trap on MG Road. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
Calcutta, Sept. 16: The tram track repairs had been put off to allow smooth Puja traffic. But 10-year-old Deepak Mullick will not live to see the festivities.
He was caught under the wheels of a private bus this morning as the driver swerved dangerously to avoid the sunken tracks that cut through the Mahatma Gandhi Road-Surya Sen Street junction like a trench.
Seven others were injured in the 8.50 am accident as the driver lost control and the bus rammed into a local temple.
Traffic police said the condition of the tracks meant such an accident “was waiting to happen”.
“The driver was clearly at fault in this particular case, but the fact remains that the condition of the road at this junction is very bad,” a senior officer of the Sealdah Traffic Guard said.
“The concretisation of the tracks on M.G. Road was halted for the stretch from this crossing up to the Sealdah flyover. It has now become difficult even for small cars to negotiate this point.”
Concretisation — the paving of the space between the rails and along their flanks to level the tracks with the road — for the entire stretch of MG Road from Howrah to Sealdah had begun towards the end of July.
But slow progress, and the traffic snarls in large parts of central Calcutta, prompted a decision to put off the work on the easternmost stretch till after the Pujas. Some patchwork repairs, meant to last till then, were started but even these haven’t been completed.
“It was a Saturday morning and there wasn’t the usual rush of office-bound traffic. The driver simply failed to control his vehicle and ran into a temple,” an eyewitness said.
Residents said that when small cars drive onto the tracks, their wheels often get stuck in the crevice-like gap in the road. “The situation is so bad that cars have to struggle to get back on the road,” a man said.
Others feared that with the Pujas around the corner, there could be more such accidents in the coming weeks.
The police managed to intercept the bus but the driver and the conductor escaped.
The bus, first taken to the Amherst Street police station, has been sent for a mechanical test and the driver booked for rash and negligent driving leading to death.
Onlookers had rushed the bleeding boy to NRS Medical College Hospital, but doctors at the emergency wards declared him dead on arrival.