The Telegraph
Monday , April 7 , 2014
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Unsafe underpass forces pedestrians to cross tracks

An underpass at Jadavpur station has fallen into disuse within seven months of its inauguration because of the stinking and poorly-lit interiors and the railway authorities’ alleged failure to build walls along the tracks to stop people from walking across.

The railways had promised to build a 10ft-high wall along the tracks on both sides — Jadavpur and Garfa — immediately after the subway was inaugurated last September.

Till the wall came up, the authorities had said stop-gap arrangements like wooden planks, iron pillars and demolished scaffoldings placed on either side of the tracks would prevent pedestrians from crossing over, risking life and limb.

Neither the wall has come up nor are the makeshift blocks still in place.

Commuters complain the lamps fitted inside the subway either do not glow or produce too little light to serve any purpose.

The subway also stinks because of seepage of water from an adjacent sewerage channel.

“Even during the daytime the subway is dark and unsafe to cross. At night it becomes a drinking and drug den. Till these problems are addressed, I will keep walking across the tracks, though I know it’s illegal and risky,” said Jheel Road resident Sadhana Mukherjee.

Commuters also allege that the subway gets waterlogged after every spell of smart showers and it takes days for the accumulated water to drain out.

“During last week’s rain a pump had to be used to drain out the water. If this is the condition in summer, what will happen during the monsoon?” wondered Rathin Paul, another local resident.

Many other residents point out that pedestrians would be forced to use the subway only if they are denied the option of walking across the tracks.

In the absence of the promised walls and the makeshift blocks along the tracks, all that the railways has done is erect boards warning pedestrians that walking across tracks is illegal and urging them to use the subway.

Few people pay heed to the warning.

“It is the responsibility of the construction agency that had built the subway to erect the walls. But they are delaying work. We will issue a showcause notice to the contractor or hire another one, if needed,” said a senior railway official.

Sources, however, said the railways owed a huge amount of money to contractor — Cosmos — that has built the subway.

“Payment of Rs 50 lakh is due. The agency has made it clear that it would not start any fresh work unless the dues are cleared,” said a railway engineer involved in the subway project.

Metro had earlier reported how the tussle over payment between the contractor and the railways had delayed the construction of the 15m long underpass for two years. Work on the subway had begun on August 2011 but was stalled for several months after 60 per cent of the it was completed.

It finally took an associate professor of Jadavpur University to trip on the tracks and lose his right leg after being run over by a train last June to jolt the railway officials into fast-tracking the project.