| The traffic post off Bangur Avenue, on VIP Road: Beacon of contention. Picture by Amit Datta
It may be of the people, by the people, for the people, but the authorities are seeing red over the traffic signal installed, and inaugurated, without their knowledge on VIP Road.
The signal, at the crossing of Bangur Avenue, now stands blinking all three lights at every passing vehicle. It worked for some time the day it was inaugurated but has not functioned since. The signal was inaugurated by then North 24-Parganas superintendent of police M.H. Verma on January 28. Neither the South Dum Dum Municipality nor the Public Works Department (PWD), however, was informed of the development.
Municipality chairman Sreehir Bhattacharya had been invited to the function by the prime movers of the signal — Trinamul Congress commissioner (of the same municipality) Sujit Bose and Congress commissioner (also of the same municipality) Mriganka Bhattacharjee — but chose to stay away. “The organisers used my name on the invitation cards they had printed for the inaugural function without my consent,” Bhattacharya alleged on Friday. “I took serious exception,” he added.
The traffic signal, at the often chaotic crossing, was a necessity, many within the municipality admitted. But Bhattacharya was livid. “How can a section of people suddenly take over work that is legally the municipality’s'” he asked. “They have no authority to do what they have done,” he added. “How can anyone just come and instal a traffic signal' Is this a joke or what'”
Trinamul commissioner Bose, however, justified the local initiative. Alleging that neither the state government nor the local municipality was serious in preventing mishaps on the “very important” VIP Road, he took both to task for not constructing a single speedbreaker at the “chaotic” crossing.
At least 10 people have died in mishaps in the past year, he added. “People here are so angry with the government and the municipality, both controlled by Left leaders, that they took it upon themselves to set this up,” Bose explained.
PWD minister Amar Choudhury, however, was as livid as the South Dum Dum civic chairman. He will ask the North 24-Parganas district magistrate and the superintendent of police to meet him on February 13 and explain to him how they allowed individuals to take over a duty of the government, Choudhury told Metro. “I will ask them how the traffic signal was installed without a green signal from the government,” he said.
The post of contention, however, is not in a state to be taken very seriously by drivers or pedestrians. Though it was inaugurated with much fanfare, no one operates it, in the light of the controversy. A small room was constructed on the boulevard on VIP Road to operate the signals manually but it is under lock and key.