The Howrah bridge of horrors has come under the high court scanner.
Soon after taking his chair to preside over the green bench on Friday morning, Chief Justice V.S. Sirpurkar told environment activist Subhas Dutta that he had seen pictures of the potholes on Howrah bridge in an English daily (The Telegraph Metro).
“This is a serious matter. An accident may occur anytime,” observed the chief justice, taking cognisance of the matter and calling for the court registrar.
He then went on to appoint advocate Tapas Kumar Bhanja amicus curiae (a person appointed by the court to assist it in the proceedings), with advocate Sanat Chowdhury to assist him in the matter.
“You will also help them,” the chief justice told Dutta. “You will visit the spot, talk to the authorities concerned and file a report.”
The probe team was asked to contact officers of the departments responsible for the maintenance of Howrah bridge and its approach roads.
Acting on the chief justice’s instructions, Bhanja and Dutta spent over an hour on the bridge on Monday afternoon. The advocate inspected the potholes, craters, vendors and boulders, while the activist took pictures to be submitted with the report to the court.
After a thorough inspection, the probe team expressed “serious concern” over the condition of the bridge. “If the authorities cannot take up repairs, they should immediately declare the bridge an accident-prone zone. Lakhs of people and vehicles use this vital connection between Calcutta and Howrah every day. A serious mishap is just waiting to happen. The authorities concerned should wake up before any lives are lost,” said Bhanja.
Craters and potholes apart, the bazaar on the bridge and the big boulders on the pavements caught their eye, in keeping with the Metro report on Thursday.
“Howrah bridge requires special care, but it is being denied even basic attention,” said Dutta.
Bhanja and Dutta later said a detailed report would be filed before the court after talking to the officials of Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners (HRBC), Calcutta Port Trust (CPT) and the state transport corporation.