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Spat over Bypass flood fear

Sovan Chatterjee and Firhad Hakim

The possibility of waterlogging along the Bypass because of the widening of the artery has triggered a war of words between mayor Sovan Chatterjee and urban development minister Firhad Hakim.

The mayor on Thursday expressed the fear that certain Bypass neighbourhoods would suffer prolonged waterlogging during the monsoon because of the way the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA), which functions under Hakim’s department, is widening the road.

“The CMDA is filling up roadside ditches to widen the road. As a result areas like Mukundapur, Ahalyanagar, Kalikapur and Ajaynagar might go under water for long periods in the absence of a drainage system. The CMDA will be responsible for that,” the mayor said after a meeting attended by representatives of the Calcutta Environment Improvement Project (CEIP) and the irrigation department.

When asked about the mayor’s statement, Hakim said: “He (Chatterjee) has no idea about the widening work of the EM Bypass. It’ll not choke the drainage system of the adjoining areas.”

The minister also said he had not received any communication from the Calcutta Municipal Corporation over the mayor’s fears about waterlogging.

The CMDA took up the widening of the Bypass between the Ambedkar bridge and Baishnabghata Patuli two years ago.

Chatterjee also urged irrigation department officials to remove “obstacles” from Charial canal to prevent waterlogging in Joka.

Seventeen large pipes have been placed on the canal’s bed as part of the work to lay tracks for the Joka-BBD Bag Metro.

Chatterjee said the pipes would slow down the draining out of the accumulated water after heavy showers. Civic engineers pointed out that the ground floor of the Indian Institute of Management in Joka was innundated for several days last year. State irrigation engineers, however, said it would not be possible to remove the pipes. As an alternative, they proposed installation of additional pumps to remove excess water.

Civic officials said people living in Behala and Maheshtala would face less waterlogging this year because of the setting up of three pumping stations by the CEIP and Maheshtala Municipality. The stations have come up in Keorapukur, Monikhali and Padirhati.

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