The sight of civic workers getting to work would usually be a welcome sign in most places. But not Akshay Chatterjee Lane and Mahinath Porel Lane in Salkia, where Howrah Municipal Corporation (HMC) has started filling up the road with rubbish to raise its level and concrete it. Residents fear that elevating the road without improving the drainage system would spell trouble for the area infamous for waterlogging.
A 200-metre stretch of Akshay Chatterjee Lane, near Salkia Chowrasta remains underwater for at least three months every year. Metro had highlighted the plight of the 400-odd residents of the area in its issue dated September 16, 2015. Rain or no rain, water from the open drains on either side of the lane often spills on to the roads and flows into houses. The monsoons make matters worse.
Water marks high on the walls of most houses bear testimony to the flooded lane of a few months ago. The drains in the area are still up to the brim.
The road is now dry but the ordeal hasn't ceased. The toilet of 11B Akshay Chatterjee Lane still has stagnant water. "The water level rises in the mornings and in the afternoons when HMC water supply resumes. The drains overflow and water enters our house," Krishna Das said.
The peril of drain water running into houses will only worsen if the HMC does not solve the waterlogging issue and instead raises the level of the road by a feet.
"Why are they raising the level of the road without solving the waterlogging problem?" asked Anamitra Neogi, whose octogenarian mother had broken her arm trying to negotiate a flooded road. Neogi had made a frantic call to this correspondent when he spotted the HMC workers get to work.
"My house is under three feet water for at least three days every monsoon. If they raise the level of the road, we will no longer be able to live on the ground floor," said Neogi, who lives in Mahinath Porel Lane.
Neighbour Namita Manna echoes similar thoughts. "Water is up to my waist near my house during monsoon. The civic workers don't clear the drains. So all the muck and filth enter the house," she said.
Manjit Singh of 12/1 Akshay Chatterjee Lane, who considers his gumboots his favourite friend in need, has already raised the level of the ground floor of his house. Some multi-storeyed buildings in the area have done the same.
"What to do? I have to survive! If I don't raise the level of the floor, there will be water inside my house through the year. All my furniture is damaged," Singh said.
Ward 6 councillor Pampa Banerjee had blamed the waterlogging on the fact that the area is "low-lying" and promised a new pumping station by 2016. But instead of working on the station to solve the drainage problem, the civic body has chosen to repair and concrete the road first.
"I don't know what the residents want. Some asked us to raise the level of the road, some said not to. If a concrete road is made, then the level will have to be increased," Banerjee said. "It's very difficult to please these people. We laid water pipelines here at the cost of Rs 4 lakh, we are now trying to repair and give them better roads. But the people are still unhappy."
The Trinamul board, which has been in power for two years, claims the waterlogging problem has existed since long. "If Pacha Khal, the main drainage canal, isn't cleared, waterlogging here will continue," the councillor warned.
About the proposed pumping station, Banerjee said: "It will happen definitely. But I cannot promise that it will happen in 2016."