The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fix-it rap for cratered artery
- New Town Road contractor summoned

The state government has decided to ask the contractor that had laid New Town Road in Rajarhat to undertake thorough repairs, following a Metro expos' on the cratered artery that was opened to public barely two years ago.

A meeting with Bridge and Roof Company Ltd, a central public sector undertaking that had built the road, has been scheduled for August 2.

'We feel there must have been some lapses on the part of the contractor. Otherwise, why should a road be damaged within a year of its completion' asked R.K. Tripathy, managing director of Hidco, the implementing agency of New Town, Rajarhat. 'We have called the contractor on August 2 and its officials will have to take the responsibility for restoring the road.'

Metro on Saturday had published a report on the potholed stretch, comparing the bone-rattling ride on it with the smooth-as-silk drive on revamped National Highway 6. The two roads were opened almost at the same time.

The 10.5-km thoroughfare, linking VIP Road with Salt Lake through Rajarhat, was laid at a cost of Rs 70 crore, under the supervision of the state housing department. The funds were provided by Hidco.

However, within a year of its unveiling in July 2004, the artery started collapsing at several points and craters appeared almost along the entire stretch.

Faced with criticism from various quarters over the sorry state of the New Town road, housing minister Goutam Deb pulled up his senior officials and engineers at a meeting on Friday.

He said the officials and engineers, whose job is to ensure that a project adheres to the agreed specification, cannot now evade responsibility for the poor condition of New Town Road. He asked them to be more vigilant while dealing with future projects and warned of penal action if any of them is found lackadaisical in enforcing rules.

Hidco had entrusted Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners vice-chairman Sadhan Banerjee to probe why Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's showpiece road was steadily turning from bad to worse.

In his recent report, Banerjee said the material used for laying the road was of poor quality and that the technical specification was not adhered to. 'The road was built immediately after the landfill, without waiting for settlement of the soil. As the soil subsided during the monsoon, some parts of the road collapsed and potholes developed,' the report said.

Housing department chief engineer Somesh Chowdhury said: 'The National Highway Authority of India spends Rs 12-15 crore for building a km of road, while we spend nearly half the amount. So, it will not be wise to compare any road with a national highway. Even then, it is not expected that a road will be damaged within one or two years of its completion.'

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