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Craters fell top engineer

GT Road in front of MC Kejriwal Vidyapeeth

The executive engineer in charge of the PWDs Howrah division that maintains the cratered GT Road was shunted out on Wednesday for allegedly submitting false reports on the condition of the carriageway.

The decision, triggered by a blockade on Tuesday involving principals of schools and parents of children who have to take that route every day, fixes responsibility for the state of the road on a single official whose allegedly misleading reports nobody in the PWD cared to verify.

A.R. Mukherjee, the executive engineer, has been shunted out for failing to maintain the road. It was his fault because there is no scarcity of funds (for repairs), a senior PWD official said.

The department had deputed an engineer posted at Nabanna, the state secretariat, to survey GT Road on Wednesday and report the condition of the thoroughfare.

The official confirmed that the road was in a poor state, something that thousands of schoolchildren and other commuters have known and endured for months.

Based on the report, the chief engineer (roads) was advised to transfer executive engineer Mukherjee to the food processing department.

Review meetings on road maintenance are held at Nabanna every month but the purpose is defeated because nobody checks whether the reports submitted by engineers are correct. The problem cannot be solved by shunting out an executive engineer. There should be a foolproof mechanism of checking whether what is being reported is true, an official said.

A 600-metre stretch in Liluah that leads to several schools has a succession of craters that no driver or motorbike rider can avoid. The largest of the craters is over a foot deep, eight feet in width and 15 feet long.

A section of engineers has suggested that the department seek reports from the local block development officers or the panchayat samitis once complaints come in.

The PWD had shunted out two senior engineers of its Hooghly division last year for failing to maintain a separate stretch of GT Road. That was after the secretary of the department, Indevar Pandey, took a ride himself. Two engineers of the Hooghly division were transferred on charges of submitting false reports, a source said.