A man wearing earbuds jumped over a guardrail on a pavement at the Chingrighata intersection, near the Jal Vayu Vihar housing complex, and landed right on the path of an SUV that swerved right at the last minute to avoid hitting him.
A man on a bicycle carrying jars of water pedalled on nonchalantly even as the traffic light turned green for vehicles and crossed the Bypass from Sukantanagar to Beleghata paying no heed to a bus that screeched to a halt inches away to avoid hitting him.
A steady stream of pedestrians crossed over from the base of the Chingrighata flyover to Shantinagar, on the opposite side, through a gap in the guardrail of the median divider.
Incidents like these happen in nearly every signal cycle at the Chingrighata intersection on EM Bypass.
From jumping over guardrails on the EM Bypass’s median divider and pavements to darting across the intersection with vehicles speeding past, pedestrians and cyclists alike keep cops on their toes.
Motorists, too, are frequently forced to slam the brakes to avoid hitting them as they appear in front of the vehicles at the last minute, raising the risk of a pile-up on the perennially busy EM Bypass.
The Chingrighata crossing in east Kolkata — where roads from Sector V, Beleghata and Chaulpatti meet — is one of the busiest crossroads on the 29-km Eastern Metropolitan (EM) Bypass.
A Telegraph report on Wednesday quoted police officers as saying that the threat of frequent accidents at the Chingrighata crossing would not reduce till a proposed underpass is built at the intersection and pedestrians and cyclists are forced to use it to cross EM Bypass.
The underpass, however, is not going to be built anytime soon, said officials aware of the progress of the project.
Pedestrians and cyclists — many of who cross over to Beleghata to collect drinking water in jars that are strapped to the rear metal carrier of bicycles — pay little heed to policemen posted at the crossing when asked to use the overbridge at the spot.
The excuses range from “I cannot climb up the ramp with 20-litre jars of water on my carrier” to “Why will we walk so far when we can cross right here?”
On Wednesday, this newspaper spent several hours at the intersection and spotted cops at Captain Bheri’s gate, 1.1km from the Chingrighata intersection, trying to dissuade pedestrians from crossing the Bypass wherever they pleased, but met with little success.
Traffic cops, including policewomen, posted near the Shantinagar end of Captain Bheri said they were often verbally abused when they asked pedestrians and cyclists to use the pedestrian overpass.
“Most people here don’t listen to us. Instead, they hurl abuses at us and walk on,” a policewoman said.
Traffic sergeants posted at the Chingrighata intersection also said that though a “holding area” for pedestrians has been created at the spot where the Salt Lake Bypass meets EM Bypass to regulate pedestrian crossover, more often than not people dart through busy traffic to move from one side of the artery to another.
There are often instances of cycles, rickshaws and vans moving in the opposite direction of traffic on the Science City-bound as well as the airport-bound flank of EM Bypass.
A Kolkata police report tabled in November cited north-south movement of vehicles on the Bypass and “heavy pedestrian crossover from a few major and minor roads, including the EM Bypass, Canal South Road, Chowlpatty Road, extension of Jal Vayu Vihar and Beleghata Main Road”.
At the Salt Lake-end of the Chingrighata crossing, residents of Shanti Nagar, Sukanta Nagar and a few other pockets earn their living working as daily labourers in small manufacturing units along Canal South Road.
The labourers, who work in units that manufacture garments, plastic goods and glass items, walk across the Bypass at the intersection, resulting in snarls on both flanks.
Residents of Sukantanagar and Shantinagar — areas behind Chingrighata, on the fringes of Salt Lake — regularly cross over to Beleghata to collect water or shop from markets there.
Paritosh Sardar, a Shantinagar resident, said that since the pedestrian overbridge was located near the Jal Vayu Vihar housing complex, they preferred to walk across the Bypass to save time. “Imagine climbing up and down a staircase with bicycles loaded with 20l water cans,” said Sardar.
A 47-year-old woman, who was crossing Salt Lake Bypass near Nicco Park on Thursday afternoon, was hit by a speeding Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire. She succumbed to her injuries on Friday.
The car went on to hit multiple vehicles, injuring eight, near the Chingrighata crossing.
Early on Sunday, an app cab rammed into a pillar of the New Garia-airport Metro viaduct, injuring four, near the Chingrighata crossing.