The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Brought to halt by handful

It was a strategy worked out to ensure 'maximum success with minimum effort'. The Citu think tank had worked out a strategic roadmap for Wednesday's chakka jam ' block major intersections with a few vehicles, rather than try and slam the brakes on individual vehicles.

The cascading effect resulted in traffic grinding to a halt at vital junctions and snarls springing up throughout town on Wednesday.

According to Citu members, the earlier plan was to stop all buses, minibuses, trucks, taxis, autorickshaws and other goods vehicles at noon.

But with uncertainty clouding cooperation from a section of transport workers, the Citu leadership decided to change protest tack.

It was far simpler blocking key crossings with vehicles, it was decided.

The target zones were Chowringhee, Moulali, Sealdah, Maniktala, Shyambazar, Ultadanga, Lake Town, Nagerbazar, Dunlop, Hazra, Rashbehari, Gariahat, Jadavpur and Alipore.

While at Esplanade and Rashbehari, the crossings were blocked by two trams, at the APC Road stretch near the Sealdah flyover, autorickshaws played traffic-stopper.

Dunlop was blocked by trucks, while minibuses were used to prevent any vehicular movement at the Shyambazar five-point crossing.

Drivers and passengers were even seen squatting on the road till 12.30 pm, when the chakka jam gave over.

But the damage had been done and the traffic tangle would take quite a while to be sorted out.

A sample of how Citu's 'selective blocking' led to a traffic standstill in city pockets:

The Chowringhee roadblock stalled traffic on Central Avenue, SN Banerjee Road, Lenin Sarani, Rani Rashmoni Road and Red Road

The Moulali roadblock affected APC Road, CIT Road, Creek Row and, Convent Road

The Maniktala block slowed down Vivekananda Road, Rammohun Sarani, Maniktala Main Road and APC Road

The Shyambazar blockade choked RG Kar Road, BT Road, Bhupen Bose Avenue, CR Avenue, Bidhan Sarani, APC Road and Bagbazar Road

The Hazra roadblock hit Hazra Road, SP Mukherjee Road and Kalighat Road

The Rashbehari block slammed brakes on SP Mukherjee Road, Rashbehari Avenue'

Subhas Mukherjee, spokesman of Citu-affiliated West Bengal Road Transport Workers Federation, apex body of the transport workers' organisations, however, all but denied the well-oiled roadblock routine.

'We did not call for a roadblock programme. Hence, there was no question of blocking roads with vehicles. The drivers were asked to stop their vehicles wherever they were at noon,' said Mukherjee.

The chakka jam caused enormous confusion and consternation among commuters, and as police did precious little but keep an eye on the clock, Calcutta was, yet again, brought to a halt by a handful.

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