● Apropos the article “Birth of Salt Lake” published on April 13, I feel Salt Lake has realised to an extent the dreams of its founders, but much remains elusive.
Dr. B.C. Roy was farsighted to dream of building a township like this but due to mismanagement of the authorities its growth has been hampered. Jyoti Basu succeeded in a large measure to strike the right balance between urbanisation and maintenance of its green environment. The IT hub in Sector V was his handiwork.
But the situation has been worsening under the present civic board. Bumpy roads, faulty sewage system, traffic snarls, water scarcity along with a menacing rise in criminal activities are worrying citizens.
| A file photograph of Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy at the inauguration of the Salt Lake reclamation scheme
But I still feel happy to live in Salt Lake and would like the new civic board to bring the township back on the right track.
● I remember the first government notification that appeared in the newspapers in July 1965, inviting applications for allotment of the newly-reclaimed land in Salt Lake. I was one of the early bird applicants.
For me and many other middle-class Bengalis uprooted from East Pakistan, this was perhaps the only chance of building a house on the outskirts of Calcutta. I was posted as divisional forest officer at Kalimpong then and so construction could start only in 1974. My family moved into our CB Block home in 1976.
Before this, we lived in a convenient government accommodation and the move was a huge change. Still my children accepted their long and strenuous bus journey to school sportingly.
Back then, the whole area was a sea of tall grass and kash phool that swayed to a southerly breeze after sunset. The entire CB Block had barely a dozen houses scattered across the block. However, we were true pioneers and the feeling of isolation developed close bonds with neighbours.
The population grew gradually and by the end of the 70s we could form block welfare associations to hold Durga puja and other functions. The 80s saw the most visible development.
Fortunately, much attention was paid to tree-planting and the forest department played a huge role in it. They planted flowering and shady trees on roadsides and parks from the early 60s and results started showing by the end of the 70s. Now in April and May, the township blooms in a riot of colours — blazing red, orange, yellow and many other hues on trees like Krishnachura, Radhachura, and Cassia.
Early settlers also took interest in planting trees on their plots, taking advantage of the distribution of free saplings during Vanamahotsav. Thus Salt Lake became a garden city. The trees attracted a variety of birds too. Morning and evening walks are still pleasant.
As one of the early residents in my block, I took active part in its development. I remember approaching others to raise funds to build the community centre. Together we have lived here for three generations, more or less peacefully.
Today, at the age of 87, it is nostalgic recapitulating memories of the township I moved in almost 40 years ago. I doubt anyone other than Dr. Roy, whom I had the privilege of seeing closely during my stint at Writers’ Buildings, could have conceived a project of this magnitude.
Prabir Kumar Ray,
● The re-introduction of bus route S-16 is welcome news to the residents of First Avenue (“Twin bus routes revived”, published on 20 April). However, one swallow does not a summer make, nor does the re-introduction of a lone bus route (the other revived route S-23 does not pass through First Avenue) after a decade help us much.
Residents living along First Avenue have no direct connectivity to Garia, Alipore, Tollygunge, Minto Park, Esplanade etc.
Except for a lone S-4, which is uncertain in frequency and always full, we have to travel to Karunamoyee or Ultadanga to reach any part of the city proper. There is no direct connectivity even to places closer to home, say Broadway Mall or Chingrihata. In the article, transport minister Madan Mitra mentioned starting intra-township shuttle service. Here’s hoping his words translate to action.