The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Traffic pain for water gain

Fasten your seat belts, there are speedbreakers ahead, all over Calcutta.

Over the next two months, more than 70 roads will be excavated, almost at one go, between February-end and April, in north, south and east Calcutta. Reason: a water distribution network is to be laid in areas like Jorabagan, Kalighat and Kasba, where booster pumping stations are to be commissioned by April.

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation's (CMC) road-excavation programme will turn many roads and lanes into no-go areas for motorists, and in some areas, traffic flow will be re-engineered temporarily.

Sixty-six km of road length will be dug up and the CMC aims to restore it after laying pipes in three months' time.

Though simultaneous restoration work will be undertaken by the roads department, the civic engineers feel the motorist will not get them back before May.

They say an excavated road cannot be restored immediately after earth-filling. It has to be left to settle for at least two weeks.

Never before in recent times have so many roads been dug at the same time. The police, too, will be in the picture for diverting traffic in the excavated areas.

Calling the plight of the city motorists 'unavoidable', mayor Subrata Mukherjee said: 'Today's pain is tomorrow's gain.'

He said the former CPM-led civic board had failed miserably in taking to the people the benefits of the Mohammad Ali Park and Park Circus booster stations by omitting to lay the distribution network in the command area of the two pumping stations.

'I will not allow this to happen for the second time and so, I have allotted an additional Rs 33 crore just for laying the distribution network,' Mukherjee said.

The command zones of the booster pumping stations at Kasba, Kalighat and Jorabagan are to be inlaid with a distribution net of pipelines. In Jorabagan, it will be a treatment plant-cum-booster station and, hence, an additional pipeline will be laid to bring the unfiltered water from Mullickghat pumping station to Jorabagan for treatment and distribution.

According to the civil engineering department of the CMC, nearly 70 roads will have to be dug up, some of which have recently been given a top coat of mastic asphalt.

It has sparked a row between the civic roads and the water supply departments.

When director-general (civil) Udayshankar Sengupta charged in a note that the people are being denied the use of better roads in the water supply department's dig-up spree, chief engineer (water supply) Dibyendu Roychaudhury countered: 'This statement will give people the misinformation that the water supply department is digging up the freshly-coated roads.'

Dubbing the road department's grievance 'silly', a senior engineer in the water supply department said: 'We don't dig up the roads for fun. The three booster stations are ready for commissioning and to deliver their benefit, we need to lay a distribution network.'

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