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Sovan’s chance to do a Sehwag

- Daughter reacts to reports & ride, urges mayor to fix roads

Virender Sehwag had slammed a century in IPL 2014 soon after his son said ‘Papa, what you did?’ when he got out cheaply yet again.

Calcutta will wait to see how its mayor, Sovan Chatterjee, responds to a telling appeal by his daughter: “Baba, rasta gulo sarao (Papa, fix the roads).”

Mayor Chatterjee admitted on Monday that his daughter Suhani, a Class V student of La Martiniere for Girls, had quizzed him about the miserable condition of Calcutta’s roads.

“My daughter suddenly told me last night ‘Baba, rasta gulo sarao. Ora to jaane na amar Baba egulo o dekhe (Please fix the roads. They do not know that my father also oversees these)’,” Chatterjee said told reporters after a meeting with minister Bratya Basu at the CMC headquarters.

Suhani was referring to media reports on the poor condition of Calcutta’s roads.

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The mayor later told Metro that his daughter also mentioned how the roads were a real bother while going to school. “She told me that the road near Taratala is very bad,” said Chatterjee.

The CMC is not responsible for all the bad roads in Calcutta, just like the one near Taratala, but the little girl’s appeal to her father mirrors the mood of a city struggling to cope with cratered roads. “The common perception is that the CMC is in charge of all roads,” Chatterjee admitted.

A senior Trinamul leader said that poor roads remain top of the mind when evaluating a civic body’s performance. “Since it is something that affects us every day, it becomes a key factor in local elections like the municipal elections,” he said.

The CMC polls are due next year.

One of the main reasons behind the terrible state of Calcutta’s roads is that multiple agencies look after different roads. Other than the CMC, the public works department (PWD), Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA), Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners (HRBC), Calcutta Port Trust (CPT) also maintain roads around town. The lack of co-ordination among the various agencies is common.

Metro has been reporting about the poor state of the city’s roads, especially EM Bypass and Diamond Harbour Road. CMDA and PWD are in charge of the two roads.

On Friday, engineers of the CMDA and RVNL argued in public on who is responsible for the poor condition of EM Bypass. Engineers of CMDA alleged that water accumulating within the project area of New Garia-Airport metro line was seeping underground and causing subsidence of soil under the surface. RVNL engineers denied the charge and accused CMDA of not doing its job.

On Monday, there was a meeting at CMC to fix a pre-Puja deadline to repair the roads. All agencies were told to fix the roads by September 22, a day before Mahalaya. But Calcutta Port Trust skipped the meeting raising fears that the likes of Taratala Road, Hyde Road and Central Garden Reach Road may not be repaired before Puja.

Earlier this month, the police handed over a list of over 400 roads — including lanes and bylanes — to the civic body for urgent repairs.

In the CMC budget for 2014-15 presented in June, the outlay on roads was Rs 303 crore, a hike of Rs 72 crore over the last financial year. “We are committed to making the roads pothole-free,” mayor Chatterjee had said while presenting the budget.

The mayor may have failed to keep his budget promise but can he do a Sehwag?