Culvert barrier falls in quest for new routes

Police on Tuesday persuaded residents of a south Calcutta neighbourhood to allow a divider in the middle of a culvert to be razed to create another new route for small cars and help ease the traffic building up on thoroughfares since the Majerhat bridge collapsed.

By Subhajoy Roy in Calcutta
  • Published 12.09.18
  •  
A heap of rubble from the divider that was demolished on Tuesday to widen the culvert that connects Chetla Road and Charu Avenue. Picture by Pradip Sanyal 

Calcutta: Police on Tuesday persuaded residents of a south Calcutta neighbourhood to allow a divider in the middle of a culvert to be razed to create another new route for small cars and help ease the traffic building up on thoroughfares since the Majerhat bridge collapsed.

The demolition of a 1.5ft high divider on a stretch connecting Chetla Road and Charu Avenue will help the traffic department divert small cars from New Alipore and Chetla towards Charu Market on Deshapran Sashmal Road and vice-versa.

The strategy is expected to reduce the number of vehicles crossing Tollygunge bridge over the Adi Ganga, one of the four bridges from which heavy goods traffic has been banished.

The divider that was demolished used to be on a culvert at Kathpole. Residents of the area had feared that removing the divider would encourage speeding on that narrow stretch,

"Cars coming from New Alipore will now cross the culvert at Kathpole and travel eastwards through Charu Avenue to emerge on Deshapran Sashmal Road, near the Rabindra Sarobar Metro station. Someone driving towards New Alipore can cross the culvert and take Pramatha Chaudhuri Sarani, also known as Station Road, to reach the New Alipore petrol pump," a police officer said.

The traffic department has yet to decide whether cars would be allowed to move both ways over the culvert. "Traffic could be one-way, in which case the direction will change in the morning and evening like on Park Street and Shakespeare Sarani," the officer said.

Roads in Alipore and New Alipore have been getting clogged every day because of the manifold increase in vehicles using these routes since the collapse of the Majerhat bridge. "We are constantly looking for newer roads through which traffic can be diverted," the officer said.

When the first attempt to pull down the divider at Kathpole was made on Tuesday afternoon, the workers faced local resistance. A police team arrived soon after to mediate, followed by Trinamul leader Swarup Biswas.

Swarup is the brother of PWD minister Aroop Biswas and the husband of Jui Biswas, councillor of Ward 18 of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC).

"I told the residents who were opposing the demolition that we need to cooperate with the government and the police. I explained to them the need to pull down the divider and they agreed," Swarup said.

In return, the residents sought a commitment from the police that no goods vehicle would be allowed on that route. "The police promised them that only two-wheelers and small cars would be allowed," Swarup said.