A canal along VIP Road is being filled up with sandbags. Picture by Soumen Bhattacharjee
Residents along VIP Road are opposing the laying of a service lane as it is eating up much of a 45-ft-wide canal along the artery.
The 600-m-long service lane is being laid along the airport-bound flank of the artery by Rajarhat-Gopalpur municipality and the public works department (PWD).
According to the plan drawn up in August last year, the service lane will be 27 ft wide. Between the lane and the road, there will be a three-ft-wide space where trees will be planted.
“Five feet of the canal has already been filled up illegally. Once the service lane and the boulevard come up, we will be left with only a nine-ft-wide drain,” said a Teghoria resident.
“The service lane has been planned to ease the traffic load on VIP Road, following the success of a similar lane between Golaghata and Bangur Avenue,” said Tapas Chatterjee, the chairman of Rajarhat-Gopalpur municipality.
But the residents alleged that the project will benefit motorists, at the cost of the 25,000-odd people living along the stretch.
“The narrowing of the canal will affect the drainage of the area and leave us inundated during monsoon,” said Debashish Banerjee, a member of Baguiati Residents Forum.
“The landfill will have a three-fold impact,” said environment activist Subhas Datta. “A large variety of flora and fauna will be lost, the drainage system will be affected and the underground water table of the area will go down.”
“The canal is being filled up in violation of the Fisheries Act, Town and Country Planning Act and the Land Reforms Act,” said Nilotpal Dutta, a resident who has been leading a campaign against landfill attempts.
Chatterjee and PWD officials, however, ruled out the possibility of the project leading to waterlogging.
“A nine-ft-wide canal is enough to drain out rain water. As for the fear of the underground water table going down, the point hasn’t been considered at all,” said a PWD engineer.