The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Now, sit and wait for a bus in Salt Lake

Waiting for a bus will soon become a far less arduous exercise for residents of Salt Lake. The hours spent under the blazing sun at street corners could be a thing of an uncomfortable past, if a partnership between the police and some private firms goes according to plan.

More than a hundred sheds at regular bus stops — with chairs, magazines and other amenities — have been lined up for Salt Lake residents.

“Things have been finalised with two private companies,” said additional superintendent of police (ASP), Salt Lake, Ajay Nand, on Sunday, adding that talks were on with a few other firms, too.

“Initially, 25 sheds will be built at key junctions and other parts of the township. The sites have been identified,” he said, adding that the total number of such special sheds would gradually go up to 100, for the benefit of the thousands who wait patiently for the buses, few and far between.

Of the first lot of 25, seven will be at and around Karunamoyee, the busiest junction of the township. Each shed would have seating arrangements, while the bigger ones will also sell newspapers and magazines, officials added. “Each shed will display a list of route numbers of the buses that will stop there, as per police norms,” explained Nand.

The cost of construction of each shed will add up to around Rs 1 lakh. “The private partners will maintain the sheds and enjoy the advertisement rights over that space. However, there will be room for the police and the Bidhannagar Municipality, too, to display important messages, including essential phone numbers,” added Nand.

According to police officers in the area, the number of road accidents has gone up alarmingly in Salt Lake. “With the present passenger shelters either non-existent or in extremely poor shape, people crowd the street corners perilously,” observed an officer. “The new sheds, with various facilities, will automatically attract passengers and prevent them from crowding the kerbs or street-corners,” he added.

Bidhannagar Municipality has been approached by the police for modalities regarding putting up of billboards and other forms of advertisement and the exact revenue-sharing norms. “The proposal will be discussed at a chairman-in-council meeting as soon as we receive it,” said Dilip Gupta, chairman of Bidhannagar Municipality.

The municipality has also been asked to tear down the existing sheds that are in poor shape. “There are a number of bus-sheds in the township, which are completely dilapidated,” admitted a police officer. “The municipality has been requested to either repair them or remove them altogether,” he added.

There are other clean-up plans for the police in Salt Lake, too. The things-to-do list includes demolition of all illegal shops and kiosks at the junctions. “This demolition drive will be extensive in nature,” promised ASP Nand.

With the authorities already ordering a ban on entry of school-buses and other heavy vehicles inside the Salt Lake blocks, officials say other strict measures — like checks on rash driving and setting up of traffic lights at important intersections — will follow.

Bidhannagar Municipality, on its part, has drawn up elaborate plans to curb traffic hazards and improve road safety. “We have identified spots for several new parking zones in the township,” revealed CPM councillor and convener of the transport committee of the municipality, Ashim Guha.

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