Urban development minister Firhad Hakim points to a pothole on the Bypass during an inspection of the crater-filled stretch. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
Temporary patchwork is all that the crater-filled EM Bypass will get for now and commuters will have to endure a bumpy ride as long as work on the New Garia-Airport Metro is on, urban development minister Firhad Hakim said after inspecting the stretch on Tuesday.
A day after Metro highlighted how a 10-minute journey from Science City to the Ruby crossing was taking more than half an hour because of giant potholes, Hakim surveyed the arterial road from Parama island to the Ruby crossing and spoke to officials of the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA, Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) and Metro Railway the three agencies engaged in construction activities on the Bypass.
Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd, the implementing agency for the New Garia-Airport Metro, is constructing a viaduct along the centreline of the Bypass while CMDA is building a Bus Rapid Transit System from Ultadanga to the Bypass crossing near Briji Metro station, work for which has been stalled since last year because of encroachment and other hurdles. The CMC is laying a 54-inch-diameter water pipe that will carry water from the Bagbazar Ghat to the Dhapa water treatment plant.
We may not be able to repair the road completely till the Metro construction work is over but I have asked the chief engineer of CMDA to carry out patchwork immediately (and) whenever needed, said Hakim, who spent about half an hour inspecting the 3.5-km stretch between Parama and the Ruby crossing, which according to him is the worst-affected.
A CMDA engineer who accompanied Hakim said this stretch was more vulnerable because of the absence of a protective bituminous layer, which could not be laid owing to Metro construction. Officials said the bituminous layer would be laid within a week.
Hakim promised the patchwork would begin late on Tuesday. Ill visit the Bypass regularly to monitor the progress and so will CMDA officials, he said.
The minister blamed the poor condition of roads on rain and lack of funds. He said the showers had not allowed the authorities to carry out proper repair work and the Gangetic soil of the city being soft, it gets dislocated every time there is underground work, thus causing the road surface to crack.
CMDA, which is in charge of maintaining the Bypass, too cited a funds crunch. We would have carried out repairs earlier but owing to a shortage of funds and pending payments to contractors, we have been unable to improve the condition of the roads, a senior CMDA official said.
Mohammad Sabir, 26, died after the motorcycle he was riding was hit by a lorry at the crossing of Surya Sen Street and College Street early on Tuesday morning. The Bowbazar resident was taken to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital and then to a Salt Lake nursing home, where he died.