On a day East-West Metro started its commercial operations from Sealdah to Sector V with the promise of easing commute woes for many, there was chaos outside most stations in Salt Lake.
Many alleged police had no proper exit plan for the passengers.
Cycle-rickshaw stands cropped up here and there and autos were parked all over outside the Sector V and City Centre stations, resulting in congestion in areas where there was none.
Traffic was affected around the Wipro intersection in Sector V, a stone’s throw from the Sector V Metro station, because autos and rickshaws stopped in the middle of the Salt Lake Bypass, which connects Sector V with EM Bypass, to pick up passengers emerging from the station.
Despite there being a paved walkway from the Sector V station’s exit to the Wipro crossing, around 150m away, and a pedestrian crossover point in front of the Wipro gate 60m away, many passengers were seen walking along the busy Salt Lake Bypass. Traffic on the busy thoroughfare was forced to slow down as a result.
To counter this and prevent accidents, the Nabadiganta Industrial Township Authority (NDITA) has started setting up iron guardrails along the perimeter of the pavements along the Eastern Drainage Channel’s bank.
What an officer of the Bidhannagar commissionerate said suggested the police had not anticipated so many commuters on Day 1.
“We had to deploy extra traffic cops at the Sector V station and City Centre stations to ensure smooth traffic. There were some hiccups initially because autos and cycle-rickshaws were trying to pick up passengers in the middle of the roads, but we managed to sort it out,” an officer said early in the evening.
East-West Metro had been running between Sector V and Phoolbagan stations for over a year. Its extension till Sealdah has changed the significance of the line altogether.
It is finally going to connect with Howrah. Thursday gave a taste of things to come.
Anubhab Saha, a resident of ED Block in Salt Lake, who drives to his workplace in New Town every day, said he was caught up at the Wipro traffic signal for nearly 15 minutes on Thursday on his way to work.
“Generally, the wait time at the traffic signal is not more than five minutes,” he said. “Once I took the left turn towards New Town, there was chaos on the road. Autorickshaws and cycle-rickshaws were moving through the wrong flank. On top of that, people were crossing over to Sector V in a haphazard manner without bothering about approaching traffic,” Saha said.
Another senior officer of the Bidhannagar commissionerate’s traffic wing said they had earmarked a place on the Canal Bank Road, adjacent to DL Block where autos and rickshaw stands will come up.
“We are trying to set up an autorickshaw route for the benefit of commuters who will get off at the Sector V station on their way to places such as College More and RDB Boulevard,” said the officer.
Several residents of DL Block, however, expressed the fear that congestion and chaos in their neighbourhood would rise if auto or rickshaw stands came up in their block.