The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dum Dum underpass underway

The spot may be different but the issue and the excuses remain the same.

An underpass was to have been carved out below the railway tracks near Dum Dum station before the onset of monsoon. Now, well into September, the authorities are blaming the delay on “political interference” and the failure to evict encroachers.

The half-kilometre stretch from the Seven Tanks crossing to Leela cinema across the bridge on Dum Dum Road is a commuter’s nightmare. Traffic snarls on a passage punctuated with potholes, leaking underground pipes and a clogged drainage system, are a regular feature during peak hours.

With both the railway system and Metro rail having key stations near the zone, the narrow carriageway under the bridge, overrun by auto-rickshaws, buses and vegetable vendors, cannot cope with the rush, admit officials.

“An underpass with an extra lane for vehicles and another for pedestrians is absolutely essential,” said an Indian Railways Construction (IRCON) official, adding that the delay was not due to any lack of effort on the part of the authorities or the private construction company. Instead, the blame lay with local shopowners who had put up temporary sheds along the stretch and initially refused to budge.

“It was difficult evicting them as they had the support of local political leaders,” another senior IRCON official said. “The settlement we reached with them also took a lot of time to implement because of political interference,” he added. The construction was taken up only after dealing with those “avoidable hassles”.

Commuters, however, have no time for excuses. “We have to wade through dirty water that accumulates after even a brief spell of rain,” complained Sujit Kumar Bhaumik, a resident of the area. “Traffic snarls are terrible during monsoon,” added Bapi Chatterjee.

State transport minister Subhas Chakraborty said: “I can understand the problems. The situation will improve soon. Work was delayed for some reasons but is now progressing smoothly.”

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