The Telegraph
Friday , April 4 , 2014
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Rally cripples city centre traffic

A rally by tribals disrupted traffic in central Calcutta for the better part of Thursday.

Vehicles got stranded along CR Avenue, JL Nehru Road, SN Banerjee Road, Lenin Sarani and MG Road as 4,000 tribals from Purulia, East and West Midnapore, and North and South 24-Parganas districts marched to Rani Rashmoni Avenue.

Most of the rallyists gathered at Howrah station, some as early as from 6am, before marching to the heart of the city. The rally was held under the banner of the Bharatiya Majhi Pargana Mahal.

The traffic disruption started about 9am and continued till 5pm, when the gathering dispersed. Between 11am and 1pm, nothing moved through the city centre.

The meeting started around 1pm, but participants kept arriving in groups till well past 2pm. Once the meeting started, Rani Rashmoni Avenue was blocked with barricades, forcing vehicles from SN Banerjee Road and CR Avenue to take a detour.

“I had a meeting at a Ganesh Chandra Avenue address at noon. After being stuck at Esplanade for 30 minutes, I decided to walk the remaining 500 metres. I ended up walking more to circumvent the procession,” said Paritosh Mitra, an executive of a private bank.

It took Mitra over 20 minutes to cover 100 metres from the Park Street flyover to the SN Banerjee Road-JL Nehru Road crossing, a distance he usually covers in five minutes.

The ripple effects were felt on Park Street, Mayo Road, Shakespeare Sarani, BB Ganguly Street and at the Moulali crossing and Dalhousie Square.

The scorching sun and high humidity made things worse for commuters.

“It has taken me about 1 hour 30 minutes to travel from Lake Town to SN Banerjee Road in the sweaty and muggy weather. I might just fall ill if I have to wait another 15 minutes,” said Soma Ray, who was on a private bus that got stuck near the Calcutta Municipal Corporation headquarters on SN Banerjee Road.

Among the worst affected were perhaps the bus drivers plying to and from Esplanade. “This is my second trip of the day through the choked roads. I could have made at least one extra trip by this time had I not been stuck for so long,” said Deb Kumar Majhi, the driver of a private bus.

“The effects of the rally were felt on the traffic of central and north Calcutta from 11am to 1pm as the participants marched down from Howrah station to RR Avenue,” said Dilip Adak, deputy commissioner of traffic police.