| WAY OUT: Bangur Avenue’s residents block a flank of VIP Road with trees and cars to pump out the water submerging their locality for three days. Picture by Soumen Bhattacharjee
The frustration of being marooned for 48 hours spilled over on to the streets on Thursday, forcing traffic diversion on one thoroughfare and forcing the mayor to beat a hasty retreat off another.
Protest brewed in Bangur Avenue, off VIP Road, from late on Wednesday, with residents taking matters into their own hands. They decided not to demand action from the civic authorities but to do it themselves — by pumping the water into Kestopur canal.
“Water from Lake Town and some parts of Dum Dum Park, which are at a higher level, flows into Bangur Avenue. This happens every time it rains too hard,” said Ankur Dutta, a resident of AB block of Bangur Avenue.
With no sign of the water receding 48 hours after Tuesday morning’s downpour, residents of Bangur arranged for three pumps to flush it out.
“We blocked VIP Road to lay out the pipes and use the pumps, with the consent of Lake Town police station, and flushed out the water from the service canals between VIP Road and Bangur Avenue,” added Dutta.
Mishtu Chakrabarty, the councillor of ward No. 29 of South Dum Dum Municipality, lauded the residents’ civic enterprise.
“The municipality had provided one pump but that was not enough. The residents took the initiative and the municipality decided to pay for the pumps in operation. Our goal is the same: to pump out the water,” said Chakrabarty.
The overflowing service canals ensured that the water refused to subside.
“Four pumps were engaged to drain the water into the Kestopur canal through pipelines across VIP Road. So, till the water recedes, we will have to keep this flank of VIP Road closed to traffic,” said Sukdev Chakrabarty, supervising the pumping operation.
Traffic between Lake Town and Dum Dum Park has been diverted to the adjoining flank, said Praveen Kumar, the superintendent of police (North 24-Parganas).
“We have decided to stop protesting the lack of civic action. Since we have to live here, we must find solutions to our problems,” reasoned a resident at the pumping site.
The tone was far less reconciliatory at Muktaram Babu Street, off Chittaranjan Avenue, when mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya and finance minister Asim Dasgupta surfaced around 11am to express solidarity with the victims of waterlogging.
When the finance minister tried to assure them that things would return to normal soon, residents of the Ram Mandir area erupted. “We live in a modern metro but the civic facilities are primitive. Our houses and shops are flooded. Are we not tax-payers' Do we not deserve better living conditions'” demanded one resident.
An outraged senior citizen shouted: “I have been living here for 50 years and nothing has improved. If both of you have finished posing for the cameras, please leave.”
The mayor and the minister did just that.