The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Car park misses the bus

Lindsay Street will look the way it now does — a complete mess — for most of 2004.

The city’s first underground parking lot, between New Market and Globe cinema, is missing its deadline by a year and crossing its budget by Rs 3 crore.

Civic officials on Sunday admitted that the Rs 23-crore car park was way behind schedule.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee had set a December 2003 deadline for the underground project in April 2003. “After building the Parkomat off Park Street smoothly, we are confident of doing this one in eight months,” Mukherjee had claimed.

That was then. Officials blamed the “lack of experience” in handling underground constructions involving special skills for the dramatic delay in the joint-venture project between Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) and Simplex Projects Limited.

“The project is already months behind schedule and we feel that it cannot be commissioned before December 2004,” said a senior engineer in the CMC’s project and development department.

The one-year delay means that the traffic mess on and around Lindsay Street will continue for another year, with most of the road space being barricaded. The chaos is expected to peak during the monsoon and then during the pre-Puja shopping rush.

An embarrassed mayor has asked chief engineer of the civic project and development department, Nilangshu Basu, to take up the matter with Simplex so that a September target is set for completion.

“The project has already been delayed and we want to throw it open to the public before the Pujas,” said Mukherjee.

The hi-tech, multi-layer parking lot under Lindsay Street has been designed to accommodate nearly 250 cars, up from the ground-level provision for 96 vehicles. Simplex is constructing the parking lot on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis. A pedestrian plaza has been planned above the parking lot.

To push the pace, Simplex has pressed another machine, imported from Holland, into service and hired the services of a technician from Singapore to expedite the sheet-piling procedure.

According to Simplex project manager Arup Chaudhury, the Parkomat on Rawdon Street had been commissioned in nine months.

“But not only is the Lindsay Street parking lot a bigger project, work is being carried out underground. Also, the project had been stopped for three months during the last Pujas,” Chaudhury pointed out.

“Then, we had to take care of the labyrinth of underground utility cables of power and telephone and water and drainage pipes,” said Gautam Dasgupta, senior commercial manager of Simplex.

Company officials further stressed that this being a BOT project, the faster they completed it, the better it would be for them.

According to the CMC’s agreement with Simplex, the private firm will run the parking lot for 20 years before handing it over to the civic authorities. During this period, it will make over to the CMC five per cent of the gross revenue earned from it.

Once the project is complete, cars will only be allowed on the narrow lane they are using now.

At the ground level, the parking lot that used to be will be replaced by a tree-lined pedestrian plaza, complete with coffee parlours, fountains and telephone kiosks.

This forms the crux of mayor Mukherjee’s plans to beautify the Lindsay Street-New Market zone and turn it into a fun destination.

Email This Page