They were meant to solve the growing traffic problem, but the two pedestrian subways at Jadavpur and Tollygunge have turned out to be another instance of wasteful expenditure. Apparently, pedestrians prefer to use the roads, causing snarls. And the usual blame-game is doing the rounds amongst the authorities.
“The subways are very under-utilised, causing accidents and severe traffic jams at the busy junctions,” said Sakil Ahmed, deputy superintendent of police (traffic), South 24-Parganas. “A major mishap can occur any time if steps are not taken.”
Ahmed added that it was the responsibility of the PWD to set up barricades and fences at the dividers, forcing people to use the subways. However, PWD minister Amar Chowdhury said the police should send them specific proposals. “This is a matter of traffic management and the police must give concrete suggestions for us to act,” Chowdhury said on Tuesday.
The subway at Tollygunge was constructed by the railways at a cost of Rs 7 crore. Inaugurated with fanfare on October 21, 2001, it lies deserted, with pedestrians not bothering to use it. This has intensified the traffic commotion at the Deshapran Sashmal Road-Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Road crossing.
Metro rail commuters, hurrying to catch a train, cross the road instead. “Using the subway means spending more time. Usually, we have a few minutes to catch a train and cannot afford to miss it,” said Saibal Sengupta, a resident of Tollygunge.
The police had written to the Metro Railway authorities to increase the thickness of the fencing on the 800 metre-long divider. “We have taken up the job of strengthening the fencing. But the authorities must set up barricades to force people to use the subway,” said Metro Railway chief engineer Ashok Gupta.
At the Jadavpur junction, vehicles can barely move with both hawkers and pedestrians using roadspace. The subway was inaugurated on November 14, 1995, and is yet to be utilised properly. “We tried to raise awareness through campaigns, but it did not seem to have any effect,” Ahmed said. Police said they are planning “concrete steps”, like involving voluntary organisations to manage traffic at Jadavpur.