Many of Calcutta’s roads were always bad. This monsoon, they seem to have got worse.
While commuters have suffered, the government and civic agencies responsible for maintaining these thoroughfares have at best done a little patchwork on some stretches.
Cars battered by the daily assault have had frequent visits to the mechanic, travel time has increased and the peak-hour snarls have grown longer.
As Durga Puja draws nearer, there is the usual talk about the need to repair the city’s ragged roads before the festival. If the belated sense of urgency within the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority, Calcutta Port Trust and the PWD is anything to go by, Calcuttans step out of their homes only during Puja. For the rest of the year, the message is to stay home or get used to broken roads!
Metro spoke to the Fumbling Four to find out what prevents them from repairing roads when Durga Puja isn’t around the corner.
Roads: Central Avenue, APC Road, AJC Bose Road, SP Mukherjee Road. In the past 18 months, the CMC has also taken over the responsibility of maintaining the Rashbehari, Park Circus and Prince Anwar Shah connectors
Condition: The roads that came under the CMC over the past year-and-a-half are in the worst shape. The Rashbehari, Park Circus and Prince Anwar Shah connectors all have multiple craters and worn-out patches that grow wider with each passing day. Officials of the CMC said they would start patchwork on all three roads soon and fix them by September 22, just about a week before the start of Puja.
Why so late? “All three roads are about 3km long. If we are to put a coat of mastic asphalt, the cost will be Rs 10 crore for each of the roads. The CMC’s own budget for repair of all thoroughfares is Rs 25 crore,” a CMC official said.
The civic body had asked for a government grant of Rs 44 crore to supplement its budget, of which Rs 38 crore has been sanctioned and half that amount released.
Roads: Within the city, the CMDA is currently required to maintain only the EM Bypass, a task in which it has fared poorly.
Condition: The Bypass has been a frustrating ride since the start of the monsoon. The
CMDA did repair some of the stretches, only for the craters to reappear. A fresh round of repairs started last week.
Why so late? The CMDA wasted time blaming the Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd, which is building the Airport-Garia Metro link, for the state of the Bypass. Funds were a problem too.
Roads: Diamond Harbour Road, Raja Subodh Chandra Mullick Road, Santoshpur Main Road, Netaji Subhas Road.
Condition: A journey through Diamond Harbour Road is like riding turbulent sea waves. Heavy traffic and construction of the Joka-BBD Bag Metro make it worse.
Diamond Harbour Road being part of NH 117, funds for its upkeep come from the Centre at regular intervals. Repairs didn’t start until last week, though.
Why so late? “This is a continuous process. Whenever we get money, we undertake repairs,” an engineer in the PWD’s highway division said.
Calcutta Port Trust
Roads: Taratala Road, Hyde Road and Central Garden Reach Road.
Condition: All of these roads bear heavy traffic through the year because of their proximity to the port but aren’t repaired until after the monsoon.
Why so late? R.P.S. Kahlon, the chairman of Calcutta Port Trust, said Taratala Road was being repaired and the rest would be fixed soon. “We will repair all the roads before Puja,” he promised.