| Sealdah station: On a new track
Don’t be surprised if you see a bamboo-and-tile structure replacing the ugly steel-and-concrete shed over a platform at some railway stations near the city. Or if the few rusty iron benches on the platform at Sealdah or Dhakuria make way for bamboo-plank benches a few months from now.
The Sealdah division of the Eastern Railway is now working on a plan that is going to act as a balm for the city-bound or city-based commuter’s tired legs and eyes, besides — more importantly — acting as a palliative for the cash crunch-hit government. And, if it has anyone to thank for the proposed bamboo-and-tile revolution, it is technology from a nation that it is often sparring with: China.
Most of the new installations that are going to come up in and around the city — and the replacements for the ageing booking counters, benches and platform-sheds — will, henceforth, use the less conventional and more eco-friendly, aesthetic and, of course, the more economic options already in use in China, say senior railway officials. Four stations in and around the city (Dhakuria, Garia, Madhyamgram and Kalyani) would be the flagships for the new experiment, they added.
“We are now finalising the procedure which we will have to follow to bring these new concepts to Calcutta and the rest of the state under the jurisdiction of Eastern Railway,” Sealdah divisional railway manager Dulal Mitra told Metro. “They will be safer besides being cheaper, more eco-friendly and more aesthetically pleasing,” he added.
Officials said Eastern Railway was following recent Union government directives asking all government agencies to tighten their purse strings. “The circular has asked us to popularise cheaper and eco-friendly alternatives,” Mitra said.
Explaining the safety aspect of these new installations, officials said the new structures would be designed to withstand much more seismic load than the older structures. “The design will have to conform to the Bureau of Indian Standards stipulations,” one of them added.
A booking counter, constructed with conventional materials, costs more than Rs 1,000 for every square feet, a senior ER official said. “The new materials will help us reduce the cost to less than half,” he added.
The only worry for the suppliers, officials said, will be the chemical treatment for the bamboo shoots as that will have to be done within three hours of their being mowed down. “That, however, should not be a problem if the right people with the right training are involved,” Mitra said.