While coming I saw some media persons sitting beside the road to capture its bad condition. But one has to understand that roads like Jessore Road are maintained by NHAI. If they fail to do, we will do it.
Reality of Jessore Road
Jessore Road is no more maintained by NHAI. It had handed over a 16km stretch of NH34 — a part of which is Jessore Road — to the state government in late 2012 after it failed to get land to widen the artery into four lanes. The stretch was repaired by NHAI before it was handed over to the state. Though the road is still under the defect liability of the contractor — which means it has to be repaired free within three years of its laying —
the contractor has not shown any interest. Nor did the state government do anything till
The state government has decided to allot another Rs 2.13 crore — in addition to Rs 1.3 crore released by the Centre — to repair the damaged stretch. The amount is paltry given the condition of the road.
Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
The fear of a glare from Mamata Banerjee achieved what the misery of lakhs of commuters couldn’t: get the PWD to make cratered Jessore Road tolerable within two days and the cops to enforce a semblance of road discipline.
The 5km stretch of Jessore Road from the Airport’s No. 2.5 Gate till Madhyamgram underwent a transformation over two days, ensuring a reasonably smooth ride for the chief minister on her way to Barasat on Tuesday afternoon.
Sources said the public works department (PWD) deployed two payloaders and around 60 men to scrape off the damaged top layer along with the bumps that had formed on the road. A roller from Madhyamgram Municipality was used to flatten the surface.
While the ride wasn’t bumpy like it had been for two months, chunks of bitumen and pieces of brick being removed and dumped by the roadside left the stretch covered in a curtain of dust.
At one point, chief minister Mamata, who was in the front seat of a white Scorpio with the windows rolled down, was spotted covering her face with the aanchal of her sari.
“We couldn’t have left the road in the state it was in after knowing that the chief minister would be travelling,” said a PWD executive engineer who oversaw the repairs.
“The dust was unavoidable because shaving off the top along with the bumps meant exposing the inner layer of the road.”
Not only did Jessore Road become a driveable stretch overnight, chronic problems such as illegal parking, lack of policing, encroachment and rash driving seemed to have disappeared.
The rows of illegally parked cars and trucks that Metro had found between Birati and Bankra on previous visits were conspicuous by their absence.
Even autorickshaws, whom no rule book can rein in, vacated the stand at the Madhyamgram crossing so that Mamata’s convoy didn’t run into a snarl.
“The police asked us to vacate our stand for the day, promising to allow us to go back there tomorrow,” said Kajal Das, who ferries people between Madhyamgram and the Airport No. 1 Gate.
The stand was shifted to a vacant plot between Madhyamgram and Doltala where a maximum of six autorickshaws were allowed at a time.
The intersections at BT College More, Birati, Doltala and Madhyamgram, always a picture of chaos, were free of snarls. Guardrails joined with nylon ropes lined the roadside to keep pedestrians from straying onto the carriageway. A large police contingent kept vigil, ensuring there was no traffic congestion along the route.
Sources said the officers of the Bidhannagar police commissionerate visited all the illegal auto and rickshaw stands along the thoroughfare and asked union leaders to shift to other places for the day.
Craters show up on Jessore Road every monsoon and snarls are a regular affair, but this season has been the worst for the commuter in memory.
A disgusted high court judge returned midway through a trip to Barasat last month after running into a snarl. Tolly actor and Trinamul MLA Chiranjit Chakraborty recently suggested renaming the bumpy stretch Uday Shankar Sarani after the famous dancer-choreographer “because it makes people dance in their vehicles”.
While Chiranjit complained that it took him 40 minutes to reach BT College More from the Airport No. 2.5 Gate on September 2, Mamata and her entourage of ministers, MPs and MLAs took 10 minutes to cover the same distance on Tuesday.
Barasat resident Kaushik Koley said he wished Mamata would take Jessore Road more often. “That is the only way to ensure the road remains usable through the year.”
Sangita Ghoshal, who escorts her nine-year-old daughter to her school in Birati every weekday, was surprised to see the bumps gone on Tuesday morning. “My daughter was recently injured when the auto we were in landed on a crater and fell sideways,” recounted Sangita, a resident of Madhyamgram.
The impact of Mamata’s visit to Barasat through Jessore Road led some to wonder when she would take VIP Road, EM Bypass, Diamond Harbour Road and James Long Sarani.
“If a chief minister’s visit can spur the authorities into action, I just pray that she visits our neighbourhood more often,” said Ramendranath Mondal, a resident of Kadamtala, off Diamond Harbour Road.
Jessore Road ‘victim’ thanks chief minister for doing a PC Sorcar Jr
|Jessore Road (picture left by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya) is smooth as loose asphalt chunks have been removed from the carriageway; an August picture of cratered Kalyani Expressway
Mamata on state highways
Yes, some roads are in bad shape.
But of the 4,000km state highways, we have repaired 1,000km. For the rest, we will adopt a PPP model.
Reality of state highways
It’s true that nearly 800km of state highways had witnessed patchwork over the past year. But the chief minister’s plan to develop the rest of the 3,200km through PPP did not take off following a report by RITES. The report stated that state highways could not be maintained through PPP as they did not conform to the Planning Commission’s requirements.
The plan panel’s guidelined state that the minimum width of a highway should be 10m if a state wants to develop it through PPP. But all 19 state highways are 5-5.5m wide.
The RITES report also stated that there was not enough land to widen the roads to 10m and the state was not ready to acquire land.
Mamata on Kalyani Expressway
Kalyani Expressway under CMDA is also in bad shape. I asked Bobby (Firhad Hakim) to repair it. The road is also being expanded.
Reality of Kalyani Expressway
The CMDA has started widening the two-lane expressway into four lanes. Unlike other highway projects, this one is apparently going to be smooth for CMDA as land is available and there is no encroachment