The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Minister drives the merry mess
- Citu blamed for obstacles in car-flow path
• Renovation of Esplanade bus terminal
• Relocation of Babughat bus terminus
• Construction of humps at the crossing of Camac Street, Wood Street and Russel Street
• Pedestrian flyover from Sealdah to BBD Bag
• Introduction of water transport on Circular and Keshtopur canals
• Construction of green corridor
• Elevated tram tracks from Cossipore to Jadavpur
• Construction of flyover at Nagerbazar and Birati
• Underpass at Patipukur
• Construction of transport complex
• Setting up motor training institute
• Introduction of water transport on the Hooghly from Barrackpore to Babughat

Talk about leading from the front. Transport minister Subhas Chakraborty, entrusted with the task of ensuring smooth flow of traffic in the city, is a votary of car crawl. A traffic solution, he feels, would push up the crime count.

Asked why the transport department was issuing permits for buses and minibuses and letting autorickshaws ply unchecked, this is what the minister had to say: “What will these unemployed youths do if they are not allowed to drive buses and ply autos' They will take to crime. Isn’t it better to have roads choked with buses and autos than to have thugs stalking the streets'”

Last week, under instructions from chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Chakraborty set up a fourth committee to find ways to improve flow of traffic in town.

“When the minister himself is opposed to clearing the streets and improving the pace of traffic and flouts the rules of his own department, what can the officers under him do to implement the recommendations of the committees'” demands a transport department official.

The CPM’s trade union wing Citu, say officials, is a serious roadblock to traffic reform, with its vice-president, minister Chakraborty, doing little to turn things around. Chakraborty claims his hands are tied. “I have taken up several projects and programmes but I have been able to achieve very little,” he says. “This is because of the several roadblocks put up by my own party and trade union. This has led to several projects and plans being stalled.”

Some among them:

• The flouting of the transport department’s ban on plying of autos in certain parts of the city; Citu stepped in.

• The transport department had to withdraw its order on not issuing any more permits for autos. Senior Citu leader Mrinal Das “forced” the department to regularise illegal autos as thousands of unemployed youths would be rendered jobless.

• Rollback of decision to withdraw trams on several routes. Citu said first re-employ the staff in other jobs before taking trams off the roads.

Citu protests the slur. “Why is the government blaming the trade union'” demands Kali Ghosh, general secretary of the Citu state committee.

He continues: “We will try and stop decisions which go against the interests of the workers and commuters. That does not mean that we put obstacles in the path of modernisation. Can Citu be blamed for the delay in the construction of the Park Street flyover'”

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