Another life was lost to pothole peril on Tuesday, in a city supposedly on the fast track to development. A bus on route 79B, packed with passengers, turned turtle after veering to avoid a series of craters in the middle of Jessore Road, early on Tuesday.
One passenger was killed instantly, and 25 others were injured, as the bus, in its bid to avoid the potholes, mounted a half-constructed embankment by the side of the road being widened, and ended up in a ditch.
Several witnesses and passengers said the mishap was caused by the “shocking condition” of the arterial road, at Gouripur, in the airport police station area.
Police, however, blamed it on the “rash” driver, who was speeding down a stretch of the road currently undergoing repairs. “True, he (the driver) was trying to avoid potholes, but he was also driving at a high speed and was seen overtaking a few vehicles on the stretch being widened. He lost control after steering clear of the potholes, mounting an embankment where the road is being widened and then toppled into a ditch,” said P.K.Nandi, inspector of Gouripur traffic guard.
The bus from Barasat was bound for Babughat. The accident occurred at around 6.30 am, as it neared the Gouripur traffic guard. An unidentified youth, around 28 years old, probably one of the conductors or a help, died on the spot, police said.
As the bus lay in the ditch, passengers started screaming in panic and for help. Local residents rushed to the spot and commenced rescue operations.
Later, the injured were sent to a local health centre and RG Kar Medical College and Hospital. The condition of six passengers was stated to be critical. Police said the bus had been impounded but the driver had fled.
Traffic was disrupted on Jessore Road after residents put up a roadblock at the Gouripur traffic guard-Birati MB Road crossing, demanding immediate repairs, from 7.30 am to 9 am.
The protesters drew attention to the fact that a similar bus accident had occurred last week, leaving around 25 passengers injured. Local Trinamul Congress parliamentarian Ranjit Panja said the condition of Jessore Road had gone from bad to worse.
“The matter has been brought to the notice of the PWD department but no action has been taken,” he alleged. PWD minister Amar Chowdhury insisted that Tuesday’s accident had been caused by “reckless driving”, not poor road conditions.