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CM’s Book Fair boon turns into traffic bane

An underpass, built at the chief minister’s behest to connect Milan Mela and Science City for the convenience of Book Fair visitors, is likely to end up creating snarls on the Park Circus connector during the annual event.

Pedestrians taking the underpass to reach one of the fair gates — behind ITC Sonar — would surface at a junction from where all cars heading for the Book Fair parking lot would take a turn. If the crowd spills over, cars would have to be stopped to make way, affecting peak-hour traffic around the Parama rotary.

“This is an area of concern and we would have to work out a strategy to avoid the mess,” said Dilip Adak, DC (traffic). “We might have to put up guard rails to create a barrier.”

City police chief Ranjit Kumar Pachnanda toured the underpass on Thursday afternoon, barely 48 hours before the fair is inaugurated by chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

A senior traffic police officer said the service road in front of Science City that allows vehicles to head towards Park Circus may have to be closed to allow pedestrians to use the underpass. But vehicles heading for Park Circus would then have to take the lone flank of the Park Circus connector, which remains choked at most times of the day.

Traffic movement on the Park Circus connector has taken a toll since the construction of the Park Circus-Parama flyover began a few years ago. Things had been in a mess during the Book Fair last year.

“The chief minister had sought an underpass keeping in mind the inconvenience that book lovers faced last year in reaching Milan Mela during the Book Fair. While the underpass has been built in record time, the necessary traffic circulation plan was not kept in mind,” said an official of the Publishers and Booksellers’ Guild.

“The underpass may reduce the number of pedestrians crossing the road but we have to work out a traffic circulation plan to accommodate the crowd using the underpass during the Book Fair,” admitted a senior traffic officer.

Pachnanda, along with a team of senior officers, also oversaw police arrangements at Milan Mela.

The police brass, after a meeting with officials of the guild and other agencies, on Thursday asked the CMDA to light up the area from where pedestrians would enter and leave the underpass as well as some stretches of the Bypass around Parama.