Demolished shanties beside AL-BL box bridge. (Right) Slabs waiting to be laid on the footpath along the canal. Pictures by Anup Bhattacharya
Sabyasachi Bandyopadhyay of AL Block spent more than a year worrying about the safety of his neighbourhood. “Food stalls had mushroomed around the AL-BL Block box bridge and outsiders would throng to eat there and chat. It had become a security issue.”
Chandra Debnath, also a resident of AL Block, says living close to the Eastern Drainage Canal meant mosquitoes and stink around the year. “But the shanties were an added eyesore,” she says. The stalls would dump their waste on the road and canal and wash their utensils in the water. Residents rallied for months to have these shanties removed.
Finally on January 15, the sub-divisional administration demolished stalls selling tea, cigarettes, rice etc. around the AL-BL Block box bridge and the road and footpath along the canal is also getting a makeover.
Salt Lake Construction Division, a wing of the urban development department, is doing the renovation that will cost Rs 1.57 lakh.
The 1.1km bituminous road along the canal from AL Block to DL Block is being converted into mastic asphalt. “Though the other end of this canal-side road, between EE and LB blocks, has been turned into a concrete road, we cannot do the same here. This is because electric cables of the upcoming East West Metro lie under this road. Should there be a fault, Metro authorities would dig up this road for repairs and it would be difficult and costly to break and rebuild a concrete road repeatedly,” said an engineer of Salt Lake construction division who is supervising the work.
The footpath along the canal will get tiled with “paver blocks”.
Other side of the coin
While residents of the stretch are happy to see the area clean again, some are missing the shops. “Two large parathas with ghoogni and an omelette would cost only Rs 20 at one of the stalls here. It was cheap and tasty,” says Akash Thakur, a college student who is a paying guest in BL Block.
Amit Sevak, another student living in AL Block, has to walk all the way to CK Market for breakfast now. “Most of the time I have to skip breakfast as I’m in a hurry,” he says. “The stalls right outside the house were convenient.”
The hawkers too are forlorn. “I was selling parathas on the box bridge for nine months. Business was good. I don’t know what lies ahead for my family,” says Tumpa Mondol, whose shop got demolished.