The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Caught at crossroads Show of strength for bottleneck

What the Trinamul Congress did on Monday, the Congress threatens to do on Tuesday ' throw afternoon traffic in the heart of the city out of gear.

If on Monday, the Trinamul law-violation programme, with its epicentre at Metro Channel, clogged Jawaharlal Nehru Road, SN Banerjee Road, Lenin Sarani, Rani Rashmoni Avenue and CR Avenue, Tuesday's Victoria House show could prove even more disruptive, as it clashes with the President's visit.

For those caught at the crossroads on Monday, the widespread disruption caused by the Trinamul trade union rally was yet another reason to ask: why, pray, must such shows of strength be allowed in Metro Channel or on Rani Rashmoni Avenue in the middle of a week'

If police blame it on the government submission in court designating these two spots (and Shahid Minar) as rally sites, the mayor points a finger at the police.

'Roads and pavements, among other things, are under the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC), but for some reason, police do not take our view into account while giving permission for rallies or meetings in Metro Channel or such sites,' complained Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya.

'However, I think nothing can be done on this count (making the city centre snarl-free) without political consensus. We must strive to have such a consensus,' he added.

The only political consensus visible on the ground at the moment is that rallies be held at the key points in the heart of city to cause maximum traffic disruption.

A case in chaos point was the mobilisation on Monday afternoon.

'Ei, tomra ekhane dariye moja dekhchho' Jao, michhile hanto... Keu ekhane dariye thakbe na (What are you doing standing there and smiling' Go and join the rally' Everyone must walk)'.

This was the party whip, cracked around 2 pm by Shobhandeb Chattopadhyay, rushing from one end to the other of Metro Channel.

As rallies to protest the government's industrialisation drive at the alleged expense of agriculture lands began to converge at Metro Channel, all roads leading to Esplanade were choked.

If the rallyists slowed down traffic on APC Road, at the Moulali crossing, on Brabourne Road and Strand Road, their convergence brought traffic to a halt on CR Avenue, Jawaharlal Nehru Road, SN Banerjee Road, Lenin Sarani, R R Avenue and New Road.

'A rally of 3,000 supporters started marching from Metro Channel and took Lenin Sarani. As a result, the Dorina crossing was blocked for vehicular movement and a traffic snarl spread to all arterial roads,' said Jawed Shamim, deputy commissioner of police (traffic department).

'The after-effect was a heavy traffic snarl that spread to the southern flank of the Park Street flyover,' said an official of traffic department.

Though the protest march ended around 3.30 pm, the aftershock could be felt for quite some time, from Esplanade to Park Street.

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