Traffic clogs road that was fun zone

Majerhat effect: wait doubles

By Debraj Mitra
  • Published 12.09.18
Bumper to bumper traffic on Humayun Kabir Sarani in New Alipore on Tuesday morning. A resident said traffic on the road is usually such that children play on it in the afternoons. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya

New Alipore: A 15km drive from Behala to Chandni Chowk through New Alipore took over two hours - double the usual time - on Tuesday, the first proper working day of the week after Monday's Bharat bandh.

Never-ending snarls, which had choked the quiet lanes of New Alipore after the Majerhat bridge collapsed last Tuesday, returned after two days of respite. Residents had to cope with incessant honking, dust and unruly traffic that made crossing roads difficult.

The Mehras of Humayun Kabir Sarani - our car took a right turn into the road from Diamond Harbour Road after the previous right turn to New Alipore Road was blocked with guard-rails - had another complaint.

"My grandchildren used to cycle around and play on the road in the afternoon. So did several other kids in the neighbourhood. They are angry they can't do so now," said Ashok Mehra, 63, a resident of Raj Laxmi Apartment on the left of the road.

New Alipore Road and Sahapur Road are two parallel arterial streets that vehicles headed to New Alipore from Taratala take. Humayun Kabir Sarani is a sleepy lane dotted with trees and used by residents and the occasional "love birds" on two-wheelers.

But since the bridge collapse a week ago, the spectacle of hundreds of cars on the same road has exploded on residents. On Tuesday, all one could see were two lines of vehicles - private cars, app cabs, yellow taxis, mini trucks and two-wheelers. It was a one-way street, with traffic headed towards New Alipore.

The narrow road - not more than 15 feet wide - made the jam look heavier.

Mehra, who used to travel to his office off Tobin Road near Sinthee regularly before the bridge collapsed, said: "My sons still go but I don't go every day."

As the cars crawled in between indefinite standstills, people looked out at the gridlock below from balconies of apartments lining the lane.

Ashok Saraogi, 49, who lives a few blocks from the Mehras, had a hard time crossing the road on foot. "Earlier, this road used to be so empty that one could cross it blindfolded," he said.

The driver of an empty yellow taxi got off during one of the many long pauses in traffic flow. He was heard ruing over the cellphone his "blunder" of taking a passenger to Behala.

As our car trudged closer to BP Poddar Hospital, a bike on the right swerved to the left and wriggled through an inch of space available. It almost hit another bike coming from behind and eyeing the same space. But only smiles were exchanged between the riders, no abuses, perhaps because of the shared agony.

It was 10.20am when our car entered Humayun Kabir Sarani. When we left it, the wristwatch showed 11.15am. The distance covered was a little less than 1km.

After going past BP Poddar, the cars were directed along Suruchi Sangha club and Station Road to Chetla Road. The next traffic hold-up was at Chetla haat, the crossing of Chetla Road and Rakhal Das Auddy Road. It took 30 minutes to clear. The cars went past a line of shops, selling everything from puja items to silver jewellery.

From Chetla Road, we turned left to enter Gopal Nagar Road. The rest of the journey, via Judges Court Road, a brief stint on AJC Bose Road and Red Road, though interrupted by traffic signals, was like a breath of fresh air.