If reaching Entally from Beliaghata Main Road still is a painfully long ride, blame it on a standoff between the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) and Eastern Railway.
The century-old Convent Bridge that connects the eastern part of the city with Entally has been renovated, but an increase in the height of the structure by around 600mm has created a new problem. The civic body is now engaged in a dispute with Eastern Railway over whose responsibility it is to elevate the road on either side of the bridge to match the level of the structure.
A source said the project would “cost a lot of money”, which is why neither side was willing to take it up.
After trying and failing to mediate between the contending parties, senior police officers of the traffic department have asked the government to intervene.
“We have had several meetings with representatives of both agencies. We have now asked the state transport department to intervene so that the stretch can be reopened to traffic by this month,” said K. Harirajan, the additional commissioner of police (traffic).
Convent Bridge was closed for repairs from May 25 on condition that Eastern Railway, its caretaker, would wrap up work in quick time. The temporary closure of this bridge meant diverting all vehicles to Entally and those coming from the opposite direction towards Beliaghata, Tangra or the EM Bypass.
When the planks that had been used for concrete casting were removed a week ago, the traffic police department was aghast to see that the bridge was higher by almost two feet. Traffic police officers and representatives of the CMC and Eastern Railway who conducted a joint inspection later estimated that another Rs 2 crore would be required to raise the road level at both ends of the bridge to match the height of the renovated structure.
“We were not informed earlier that the height of the bridge would be raised. A near two-foot increase in height is a lot. You have to have the roads at either end tapered for quite a distance so that all makes of vehicle can rise up the slopes,” said Saumitra Bhattacharya, the deputy chief engineer (civil) in the CMC. “We have asked Eastern Railway to do the job or foot the additional expenditure.”
Railway officials argued that the original structure was raised on steel girders placed sideways, and that these had become weak over the years.
“But now we have built it with steel girders placed below, which is a modern technique and makes the structure more durable. In any case, it’s the state’s responsibility to build and maintain roads. In Calcutta, the CMC does this job. Bickering over money should not keep the bridge closed to traffic,” said a senior engineer of Eastern Railway.