The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Off the dotcom dirt track

The path through the tabernacle of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's precious IT dream is potholed and slushy.

Amidst tall claims of infrastructure to match the best, the cratered stretches of Salt Lake Electronics Complex (Saltlec), meant to be the state's IT highway to the future, seem just fit for bullock carts.

Take the zip, zap, zoom stretch connecting the state's IT hub with the airport.

To hit the 11.6 km dream run in Rajarhat, one has to play spot-the-road contest and risk serious vehicular damage these days.

'The condition of the approach roads to the flyover is really bad and except for bullock carts, no other vehicle can cross the stretch,' says a senior official in a leading IT firm.

All departments involved ' from Webel to the ministry of urban development and Bidhannagar Municipality to Hidco ' agree that the stretch from EM Bypass and Chingrihata crossing to Rajarhat New Town border and parts of Sector V are a real nightmare.

But whose responsibility is the horror road, anyway'

'We are aware that the condition of the stretch is pathetic and have recently requested Hidco to address the issue,' says S.K. Mitra, managing director, Webel, the state government's nodal IT agency in charge of Sector V.

Sumantra Chowdhury of Hidco says the onus of road repairs in Salt Lake lies with the urban development department, and not with Hidco.

'Our jurisdiction starts from the bridge. But since the state government is responsible for the approach roads, we have joined hands with CMDA and taken up a Rs 7-crore project to address the problem,' adds Chowdhury.

While the blame game goes on and the pothole widens, the IT companies wait with fingers crossed on the keyboard.

'Despite repeated requests from us, the authorities have done nothing to improve the roads in the area. The Bidhannagar Municipality doesn't seem to bother, probably because there aren't any voters here,' cribs an IT-preneur.

But the municipality, which collects substantial taxes from the tech town, claims it is doing its bit.

According to Soma Pramanik, CPM councillor from ward 14, the municipality has written to Hidco, urging it to take up immediate road repairs. 'We plan to hold a meeting with Hidco soon,' she adds.

These 'bits and pieces' measures will not be able to solve the problem, grumbles an IT-preneur in Saltlec. 'The solution lies in granting the IT hub an industrial township status and giving an agency all the infrastructure responsibilities,' he clarifies.

'The decision to remove Sector V from Bidhannagar Municipality has been taken at the highest levels. It has also got a clearance from the chief minister's office. But since the Delimitation Commission of the Central Election Commission is demarcating Assembly and parliamentary constituencies, we are not able to implement it,' explains Deepankar Mukherjee, secretary, municipal affairs.

Mukherjee, however, adds that the government is seeking an 'exemption' from the central authorities in view of the 'urgency'.

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