Schoolboys returning home on Monday afternoon stop on the VIP Road-bound flank of the flyover for a close look at the portion that collapsed early on Sunday. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta
Trust Calcutta to turn a shudder-inducing sight into a spectacle.
A city that can’t compete with the other metros on most counts suddenly has a “tourist destination” only it can boast of: a showpiece flyover with a 128ft chasm towering over a tree-lined canal.
Hundreds of cars slowed down along the intact flank of the VIP Road flyover throughout Monday for the passengers to step out and gawk at a sight that has been variously described as breathtaking, shameful and scary.
The “tourists” included everyone from children returning home from school to a coy bride in a pink Benarasi craning her neck out of a car window.
“Driver dada was reluctant to bring us here. But we coaxed him to take a detour. A bridge split into two is something we have only seen in computer games and movies,” said Class IV student Ayush Bhattacharya, who stays in New Town.
Ayush was part of a group of six La Martiniere boys determined to see from close how a part of the flyover they had crossed many times came crashing down.
Barely had the Maruti Versa come to a halt when the boys stepped out and screamed in excitement. Driver Arup Saha first tried to hustle them back into the car, then pleaded with them to hurry up. They wouldn’t listen.
Dhruv Sinha, 9, said he hoped to return with a camera. “I wish I was carrying a camera. I will ask my father to bring me here again.”
Souvik Laha, in his early 20s, came all the way from Jadavpur to take a picture of the broken structure. “I had taken a top shot of the flyover when it was opened two years ago. I could not have missed the opportunity to photograph the flyover in its present condition,” he said.
Some soaked in the sight and let fly a jibe. “We are getting closer to London,” quipped Salt Lake resident Suranjana Mitra. “Our bridges are falling!”
It took a famous nursery rhyme to create a vision of London Bridge “falling down” but Bengal has the chance to turn a flyover that actually fell into a tourist destination beyond Darjeeling, Digha and the Sunderbans.
So what does the tourism minister think of the potential of the city’s new crowd-puller? “Erokom anek ghatana ghate. Aagun lagleo tourist spot hoye jaye (Many such incidents happen. When a fire breaks out, the site becomes a tourist spot),” minister Krishnendu Narayan Chowdhury said.
While the VIP Road-bound flank of the flyover and the slip road running below offered several vantage points for a look and a click, the row of cars and bikes parked there slowed down traffic.
“I am worried about having to take the old, congested route to school and back for the remainder of my annual exams,” said Vineet Nair, a Class X student of Don Bosco School, Park Circus.
On Monday, Vineet left his Bangur Avenue home for school 30 minutes ahead of the usual time lest he be caught in a snarl near the VIP Road end of the flyover.
For interior designer Totan Dutta, the sight of the broken flyover was a reminder that it could have been him inside his car in place of the trio in the truck that plunged into the canal. “I last crossed this flank at 8pm on Saturday. Looking at the broken flyover, I can only thank my lucky stars it wasn’t me,” he said.