|seeping water, subsidence & one huge snarl
|(Clockwise from top) The portion of the Ultadanga-bound flank of the Bypass in front of Fortis hospital that sank on Tuesday morning; minister Firhad Hakim inspects the subsidence; cars crawl in a single file on the affected stretch. Pictures by Bishwarup Dutta
Calcutta desperately searched for a road to bypass the Bypass all through Tuesday as snarls triggered by a subsidence near Fortis hospital stretched for over 1.5km and brought traffic to a crawl.
A portion of the road sank on the Ultadanga-bound flank around 7.30am and the Bypass turned into a traffic mess within an hour as office-bound vehicles pressed into it.
The situation forced urban development minister Firhad Hakim to rush to the site.
He promised harassed commuters that the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) would restore the road by Wednesday morning.
Long queues of vehicles were noticed on roads merging into the Bypass — the Rashbehari connector and the Prince Anwar Shah Road connector. “It took me nearly an hour to cross the Ruby roundabout from Jadavpur via the Prince Anwar Shah Road connector,” said Avishek Guha Thakurta, who was on the way to his Salt Lake office.
“The snarl was unending. I got really late,” said an engineer with a private construction company in Salt Lake.
“The tailback reached Avishikta crossing as cars and buses kept pressing into the Bypass. We announced on public address systems installed at crossings along the Bypass about the snarl and advised commuters to take other roads,” said V. Solomon Nesakumar, the deputy commissioner of police (traffic).
Engineers said more than half the road near Fortis hospital sank below its tarred surface, making the stretch undulating. The road was reduced to a narrow lane on the right, forcing vehicles to crawl in a single file.
CMDA engineers said they would work at night and restore the road by Wednesday morning. “We will try to complete the widening work on this stretch soon so that traffic chaos can be avoided in the event of a subsidence,” said an engineer.
Hakim and the CMDA engineers blamed the Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), which is constructing the Garia-Airport Metro line along the Bypass, for the subsidence. “They have barricaded the road in the middle for their work but didn’t build any drains. Water accumulating after rain seeps underground and this caused the road to sink,” the minister said.
“We had asked RVNL to repair the road but they have declined to do so, saying they don’t have the budget to repair roads,” Hakim added.
RVNL officials denied the allegations. “The pillars (for the Metro) are already up on the spot where the subsidence took place. There is no possibility of water accumulating and seeping into the ground. The road sank not because of our work,” said an RVNL official.
“We had a meeting with the chief secretary in the first week of July where it was decided that we will only repair the portion of the road within our barricades. Anyway, we will carry out an inspection to see if our work has done any damage,” said the official.
An RVNL official met Hakim on Tuesday and explained the railway subsidiary was not responsible for the poor state of the Bypass.
Metro has been reporting since the onset of the monsoon about the condition of the Bypass and how difficult it has become to cross some of the damaged parts of the so-called speed corridor.
Till last week, the Ruby crossing had multiple craters.
The Garia-bound flank between Panchannagram and the Ruby rotary has rough stretches where the top layer has worn off and stone chips were scattered all along the road. Some of the service roads, especially the one in front of the passport office, bear no semblance of a tarred road.