If traffic in some south Calcutta pockets is now a study in slow motion, it will soon be reduced to a freeze frame.
At least 30 key stretches from Tollygunge to Behala will be rendered roads to avoid in the next few months, as large portions go under the pickaxe.
The end: carrying filtered water to over 600,000 Calcuttans from the Ranikuthi and Bansdroni booster pumping stations. The means: digging up thoroughfares to lay steel pipes before the rains set in. The effect: a further slowing down in rush-hour traffic and chaos at the crossroads.
“Calcuttans will have to bear with us for some time for the sake of improvement of quality of life as the pipes are needed to distribute water to thousands of households from the two booster stations,” said mayor Subrata Mukherjee.
The pipe-laying project from February, in Mamata Banerjee’s constituency, is “one of the biggest” undertaken by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) in a long time. “No CMC board has ever invested such a huge sum on the city’s infrastructure development from its own funds in a quarter of a century,” stressed Mukherjee.
Roads in Tollygunge, Ranikuthi, Kudghat, Bansdroni and Behala will be dug up. As these are directly or indirectly linked with arteries like Gariahat Road, SP Mukherjee Road and Rashbehari Avenue, a traffic go-slow is inevitable for at least three months. “We will convene a meeting with the traffic police of Calcutta and South 24-Parganas before the digging begins,” said the mayor.
Police bosses, meanwhile, said they would be chalking out diversions and alternative routes to cope with the traffic mess. “We have been told by the civic authorities to prepare for large-scale disruption. We will have to make elaborate traffic arrangements when this pipe-laying begins. We will first hold meetings with the civic authorities and get to know their schedule,” said Banibrata Basu, joint commissioner of police (traffic).
Large stretches of Ranikuthi and Bansdroni will remain off-limits for traffic for at least a fortnight. Areas to be dug up in this belt include NSC Bose Road, Jadavpur Central Road, Bagha Jatin (Block I), Netaji Nagar, Canal Side Road and GC Naskar Road.
Steel pipes of various diameters, ranging from 10-inch to 24-inch, will be laid for the filtered water network. “Tenders have been floated and as soon as we get the pipes, the work will start,” said member, mayor-in-council (water supply) Sovan Chatterjee.
According to CMC chief engineer (water supply) Dibyendu Roychaudhury, the booster stations at Bansdroni and Ranikuthi will be completed soon and work is on at the Bagmari, Kasba and Kalighat booster stations, for which pipes will be laid later.
“We are spending a total of Rs 200 crore on water supply improvement projects in the city to meet filtered water requirement till 2025,” said the mayor.