Monsoon coupled with the civic administration’s short-termist approach on maintenance have brought the city’s road network to its knees.
Potholes in crumbling roads have sent motorists’ workshop bill through the roof and there’s no guarantee that the axle or suspension wouldn’t be damaged again. New craters are springing up every day and the older ones are getting wider and deeper.
The authorities have tried to fix the chinks with a Band-Aid solution: bring in a truckload of bitumen-mixed gravel at night, pour the mixture into the holes and run a heavy roller. Result: rain and traffic open up the wounds again. The patchwork becomes a carpet of stone chips spread on broken asphalt. Metro took a ride through the potholes and bumps.
Ruby to Ballygunge
Worst stretches: Ruby roundabout, Gitanjali stadium, Bosepukur, Dolna Day crossing
For motorists driven to distraction by increasingly cratered roads, this 3km stretch connecting the Bypass with Gariahat can resemble the best track for dirt road motocross.
Once you cross at least six big potholes along the Ruby roundabout — which are steadily expanding in girth and depth — there are 20 more (counting the just big ones) to negotiate. Stone chips and bituminous gravel scattered over the uneven surface near Bosepukur and Kasba add to the discomfort.
Bikers can easily get knocked off their vehicles on such surfaces. The road was surveyed at the beginning of July but no attempt has been made so far to repair it.
Parama to Ruby
Worst stretches: Parama Island, Tiljala, Ruby roundabout
This stressful stretch of EM Bypass is the epicentre of frenzied construction activity: flyover, overhead Metro and some plus-size potholes being built on the side.
Waterlogging is another chronic side effect. The potholes, some five inches deep, turn into terror puddles minutes after a moderate spell of rain. A 10-minute drive becomes a half-an-hour endurance test as cars crawl near Topsia to skirt the craters. Parama to Dhapa Bridge, hardly a shout away, can take 20 minutes.
Diamond Harbour Road and James Long Sarani
Worst stretches: Ajanta Cinema, Behala Chourasta, James Long Sarani Fire Brigade
If Diamond Harbour Road is the bone-rattler of Behala, James Long Sarani has to be the back-breaker. The two parallel roads — lifelines of Behala — are perhaps the worst in the city. No wonder former England captain Geoffrey Boycott groaned in displeasure after a bumpy ride to a school in Joka last December. “You’ve got to fix your roads,” he told transport minister Madan Mitra. Diamond Harbour Road offers multiple obstacles: potholes “as big as your average garage”, waterlogged stretches “where ducks won’t dare” and mud from the Metro construction. On Behala Chourasta, broken brick chips were dumped to cover the holes.
Worst stretches: Jessore Road crossing and Baguiati
Welcome to Calcutta, reads the sign outside the airport off VIP Road. Wonder, why nobody has scrawled a warning under that board: “Bumpy ride ahead, hope you enjoy it!” Quite an unflattering introduction to the city! Two months of rain has riddled the road with potholes “that can swallow a Nano”.
Construction of the VIP Road flyover has further battered the road while traffic snarls have become routine.
The Baguiati stretch is probably the worst: uneven surface dotted with potholes. The road narrows because of construction material for the flyover being dumped alongside.
The Jessore Road crossing is another danger spot. The crumbling surface has given the road a skidding cover of stones and gravel.
Length: 4km (Dunlop to Dum Dum Road)
Worst stretches: ISI and Sinthee crossing
A variety of craters — large and deep — have sprung up this rainy season on the road that connects Calcutta with Barrackpore.
The bitumen layer has worn off at many places while a 50m stretch outside the Indian Statistical Institute has at least five big potholes.
Some of these were covered with rows of uneven bricks, apparently to cushion the impact on wheels and reduce the potential damage and discomfort. But the dimpled spots have turned into axle killers, too. Sinthee, on the other hand, has the deepest potholes — some as going five inches down and close to the road divider.
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