| HIGH TIME: The overbridge at Kankurgachhi that will be dismantled and relocated across Beleghata canal. Picture by Aranya Sen
It was erected in early 1992 to enable pedestrians to cross a busy street. Post-Pujas 2005, it will removed.
Gross under-utilisation has forced the state government to decide on dismantling Calcutta's first pedestrian overbridge ' across CIT Road, near Kankurgachhi ' and transplant it over the Beleghata canal after the autumn festivities.
'Most people, especially the elderly, are averse to using the overbridge, as it involves climbing so many steep steps,' an official said. 'Instead of serving its purpose, the bridge, with its sides covered with huge billboards, has become a hangout for young couples.'
The removal of the Kankurgachhi overbridge, according to officials, is only the first step. The government will monitor the footfall on the other overbridges ' in Rajabazar, Sealdah, near Ultadanga station and at the foot of Dhakuria bridge ' and decide what to do with them.
The overbridge across Cornfield Road has an escalator, which operates between 11 am and 6 pm.
'We are trying to ascertain to what extent pedestrians benefit from the overbridges. Appropriate measures may be taken for the under-used ones,' said the official.
It was information technology minister Manab Mukherjee who had pointed out that the Kankurgachhi structure was being under-used.
'Stating that a bridge was required across the Beleghata canal, the minister had suggested that the structure be transplanted,' a transport department official disclosed.
A truncated version of the bridge, 45 metres long, will be installed across the canal. 'Some steel will have to be bought for the new bridge. Even then, we'll save a lot. An additional Rs 12 lakh will be spent on the project,' said transport secretary Sumantra Chowdhury. The extra cost will be incurred on procuring steel and laying a concrete foundation. The new bridge will be shorter ' around two metres in height ' with fewer steps.
'It will run parallel to the railway overbridge on the canal, linking Chawlpatty Road to Canal (South) Road,' said an official of Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners.
'It's not as if Calcutta doesn't need overbridges. There are many busy intersections, where pedestrians cross the road perilously. It is the prospect of climbing so many steps that is daunting people,' secretary Chowdhury said.
The government, he added, is also considering installation of escalators on overbridges. 'Hopefully, more people will use the bridges if there are escalators.'