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14 things we don’t want in ’14

UNSAFE CITY

From Jodhpur Park to Madhyamgram, women on the move felt unsafe by day and scared by night. The faith in police playing protector was eroded by jargon like jurisdiction and perils like politicisation.

Please: Let us put the fear of god in molesters and harassers, make emergency helplines foolproof and the police more pro-active.

TAXI REFUSAL

Eleven out of 12 taxis in Calcutta refuse to go where you want to, a Metro survey at the city’s busiest intersections had revealed in December. A call to the police helpline is most often of little use.

Please: Let all taxis be no-refusal taxis.

POLLUTION

Nose: To inhale poison.

Ear: To be assaulted by noise.

Eyes: To gaze at filth.

Skin: To be burnt by sunlight unhindered by a green cover.

Tongue: For a bitter taste in the mouth left by all of the above.

When will we ever learn to bother about and protect our environment?

Please: Let us all pledge to do our bit to fight the pollution that is killing us. Not so slowly.

ATTACKS ON THE AGED

The looters have singled out the elderly as soft targets in a city that the young are often forced to flee for lack of opportunities. So many aged Calcuttans were robbed, assaulted or even murdered, often by their trusted aides.

Please: Expand the scope of Pronam, the Calcutta police project to help the elderly.

METRO CROWD CRUSH

Metro ferried nearly 7.5 lakh passengers each working day between Puja 2012 and November 2013, when the fares were finally raised. An eight-coach rake carried 2,900 passengers on an average, far more than the capacity of 2,100. Commuters jostled for space on platforms, trains and at turnstiles.

Please: Let more trains run at five-minute intervals.

MISSING BUSES

The number of buses on most routes dwindled throughout the year. Lack of options forced many to depend on illegal shuttle taxis and even trucks for their daily commute.

Please: Give us back our buses. And for that if fares must be raised so be it.

TRAFFIC SIGNAL MUDDLE

To stop or to go is the question that vexes motorists at many intersections, especially at night, as the traffic lights are on the blink. The ones that work are not synchronised so snarls are common.

Please: Install traffic lights that befit a metro.

CRATERED ROADS

Narrow or wide, city centre or the fringe, if it was a city road it had to have craters. They appeared at the beginning of monsoon and made us suffer till they were repaired — sorry, patched up — in winter.

Please: Let proper action be taken against those responsible for the surface being washed away by a water bottle, and our roads resembling the moon.

PROJECT CRAWL

Five years after a flyover was announced to ease traffic on the Parama connector, it is still being built. Five Metro projects are in various stages of stopwork. At least four private construction companies have moved away and/or sought compensation for idling men and machinery.

Please: Let’s all agree that we desperately need these projects and get them going.

CAMPUS UNREST

From shooting of a cop over union elections at Harimohan Ghose College to the mob rampage at Christ Church School, the campuses were witness to some of the worst violence in the city.

Please: Make college polls apolitical and stop outsiders at the campus gate. At least try.

AIRPORT AARGH

Cramped cubicles, long queues and wet floors — the restrooms in Calcutta’s new terminal were a nightmare for fliers. They improved after several Metro reports but they are still not a patch on the other new airports.

Please: Privatise the essential services to make the change count.

CRACK & CRUMBLE

Chunks of concrete from the Ultadanga flyover at the beginning of the year and the ceiling of the Baker Building at Presidency University at the end brought the city’s pride crashing down.

Please: Let us build structures with care and maintain them with even more care.

ENCROACHED PAVEMENTS

Change or no change, the hawker raj continues on the city footpath. And where the hawkers are absent, pedestrians are forced to share space with lamp posts, meter boxes, parked vehicles and even party offices. If you want to walk, be ready to risk limb and life by treading the streets.

Please: Let us allow the pedestrian to reclaim the pavement. Okay, a significant part of it maybe?

RAIN DURING PUJA

The rainy season dragged on and on in 2013, from early June to mid-November, which makes it almost half a year of wet weather. The unkindest cut? The wettest Puja in memory.

Please: Let it be a dry Puja, though it is as early as end-September this year.

And one thing we do want

PARTY SPIRIT

The party spirit of Calcutta in the countdown to New Year’s Eve ending in a crescendo of cheers and chants, song and dance in that magic midnight moment. That there’s no place like Calcutta on 31st night was proved once again across 31 party haunts where 2014 was ushered in with The Telegraph or t2 as partner. To know where and how Calcutta was partying when 2013 turned into 2014, watch out for t2 on Friday and Saturday.

Please: Let the party spirit grow. And grow.