Jessore Road should be renamed Uday Shankar Sarani because it makes people dance in their vehicles, Tollywood actor-turned-Trinamul MLA Chiranjit Chakraborty suggested on Sunday after a drive through Calcutta’s king of craters.
“Jessore Road-er naam palte Uday Shankar Sarani howa uchit. Ato nachte hoy,” the actor-politician said, tongue firmly in cheek, at the inauguration of a blood donation camp in Barasat that he reached 45 minutes late.
Chiranjit, like the disgusted high court judge who had returned midway through a trip to Barasat last month, apparently hadn’t planned for a road that is a challenge to the human spirit and automobile engineering.
“The road was so bumpy that I felt like I was dancing inside the vehicle. The road should be ideally named after Uday Shankar,” he told Metro.
The stretch between Golf Garden and Bijoygarh in Golf Green is already called Uday Shankar Sarani after the iconic dancer-choreographer, though not for the reason that Chiranjit thinks Jessore Road should also bear his name.
“The stretch between the airport’s Gate No. 1 and BT College is the worst. I hadn’t taken that road recently, so I was stunned to see its condition today,” the actor said, complaining of back pain after the journey.
He had set off from his Southern Avenue home at 11.30am and reached Barasat at 1.45pm. “It took me 40 minutes just to cover the stretch between the Adhai No. Gate and BT College,” Chiranjit said.
If it had been a weekday, he might have needed another 40 minutes to travel that horror stretch (as highlighted by Metro between August 5 and 23).
The Barasat MLA later asked PWD minister Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar when the road would be repaired, a question that has been on the lips of lakhs of commuters who have to suffer it every day.
“The minister told me that he was awaiting funds from the National Highways Authority of India to repair the stretch. Since they are not paying the money, the state government will start repairs on its own by Wednesday,” Chiranjit said.
A senior PWD official said the NHAI “has agreed to pay us Rs 1.30 crore”. He said the state government would spend another Rs 2 crore from its coffers on the repairs.
Ajay Ahluwalia, the chief general manager of the NHAI in Bengal, said the PWD had already been given Rs 40 lakh. “For the rest of the money, we have sought approval from our headquarters.”
The stretch of Jessore Road from the airport to Barasat is no longer the NHAI’s responsibility, though the last round of repairs in 2012 had been carried out by the agency.
The NHAI has agreed to foot a part of the bill for repairs because of a liability clause governing road maintenance. If a road develops craters before the end of a fixed period — a year in this case — the agency that maintained it last would need to pay for the repairs.
The NHAI formally handed over the airport-to-Barasat stretch to the PWD for maintenance four months ago, as notified in the previous year’s gazette. The reason for the handover was the state government’s failure to remove encroachments that have stalled the project to widen the road to four lanes.
A senior PWD official said repairs would start by the end of the week, not accounting for the weather forecast that portends more rain. “We have done an e-tender. The bid is scheduled to be opened on Wednesday. If everything goes according to plan, the repairs will begin on Friday.”
But there’s no telling how long the repairs will last, especially if September is as rainy as August. The official said the repairs would be “patchwork” at best given the amount of money that was likely to be made available.
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