The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Strait is the gateway
- Howrah bridge woes: potholes, eroded pillars, vendors & vehicles

Brick bits shoot out like bullets from potholes as cars fail to steer clear. Craters eat up most of the road surface in a pattern that makes the bridge resemble a beach. The river below is visible through gaps at the corners. The approach roads are a mess… Rabindra Setu, the gateway to Calcutta, could not be less inviting.

Metro takes a horror ride on Howrah bridge…

Crater calamity

Potholes and craters galore greet you between pillars no. 1 and 2, as you start moving from the Howrah station end. Deep and round, they are here, there and everywhere; between pillars no. 4 and 5, 15 and 16, 21 and 22… From the Calcutta end, where vehicles hit the bridge, some craters are so deep that the steel base of the bridge is visible.

Mind the gap

The iron casings at the base of the pillars are either worn out or have fallen off. At some points, the river is visible through the cracks. Other pillar peril points: ragged iron sheets, wire-ends sticking out at the approach from the Mullickghat Pumping Station end.

Hello hawkers

“Rabindra Setu is the gateway to Calcutta/Please take care to preserve it” — the giant signs at both ends of the bridge are all but blocked out by a brigade that hawks everything from apples to potatoes, flowers to rubber sandals, litters the road and further narrows the carriageway.

Who’s to blame'

Calcutta Port Trust (CPT) is in charge of Howrah bridge. Beautification is priority number one, so lights are being put up. Basic repairs will follow soon, one learns. Officially, mum’s the word. P. Bala, senior executive engineer, refuses comment.

“We have been trying to draw the attention of the CPT to the condition of the road surface for so long, but…,” complains an officer of the Howrah Bridge Traffic Guard.

“Buses on 80-plus routes ply on the bridge. And now that the toll plaza on Vivekananda Setu has tightened the net, many more vehicles are taking Howrah bridge. The load on the bridge is tremendous and its condition terrible,” says an officer of the traffic police.

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