Ma for Manush to fly over Mati

Calcutta's longest flyover was officially named Ma on Mahalaya, although nobody knows for sure whether Ma Durga, Parama, Mamata or Ma-Mati-Manush dictated the choice of nomenclature.

By Subhajoy Roy
  • Published 13.10.15

Calcutta's longest flyover was officially named Ma on Mahalaya, although nobody knows for sure whether Ma Durga, Parama, Mamata or Ma-Mati-Manush dictated the choice of nomenclature.

The Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA), custodian of the flyover inaugurated last Friday, published an advertisement in some newspapers on Tuesday to announce the christening.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, mayor Sovan Chatterjee and police commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayastha had taken a ride through the Bypass-bound flank from Park Circus on Monday evening and alighted midway through the return journey to walk the last 100 metres and soak in the aerial view.

Unlike south-bound travellers who had run into a traffic logjam at the Park Circus end on the first two days, the trio wouldn't have experienced the frustration of taking the city's newest flyover, only to be confronted by a snarl rivalling a bad Bypass day.

Official sources said chief minister Mamata was aware of the Park Circus problem and had instructed the agencies concerned to find a solution soon. "The chief minister has asked the police, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation and the CMDA to sit together and devise a strategy to ensure that traffic flow on the flyover is smooth," an official said.

While the three agencies brace for a return to snarls after the two-day holiday lull, Calcutta can't stop talking about its new flyover, this time because of its name. Metro tries to crack the curious case of a flyover called Ma.

Who, Ma?

No prizes for guessing that has the last word when it comes to naming or renaming any landmark, be it Metro stations long known by other names, roads or parks.

Officials in the CMDA were either tight-lipped or non-committal about who proposed and finalised the official name of the Parama-Park Circus flyover.

Some officials said the order to publish newspaper advertisements announcing the name Ma came from urban development minister Firhad Hakim. Others said Hakim had only conveyed chief minister Mamata's decision.

"Who would dare ask a minister whether he named the flyover Ma or anyone else? It is anybody's guess who decided the name," a senior official said.

Sources said the CMDA had been asked to display flex boards bearing the name in different sections of the 4.3-km-long flyover.

"We are getting five flexes made, each with the name of the flyover on it and a message wishing people a happy Durga Puja. We don't know anything beyond what we have been told," an official said.

Why Ma?

Several theories are doing the rounds. Some say Ma is an invocation to Durga with barely a week to go for the festival to celebrate the arrival of the Mother Goddess. Another school of thought is that Mamata's slogan Ma-Mati-Manush inspired the choice of name. An official suggested, with a straight face, that the next two flyovers in the city, whenever built, could be named Mati and Manush.

Since the two arms of the flyover Ma above Park Circus are still to be completed, there is time yet for Mati and Manush to form a triumvirate of elevated roads marking Trinamul territory.

" Aamar ma-i aamar shob kichhu... (My mother is everything to me...)," Mamata had famously said when her late mother, Gayatri Devi, was hospitalised in November 2011.

Name game

As railway minister, Mamata had gone on a renaming blitz that saw Tollygunge Metro station becoming Mahanayak Uttam Kumar. Other famous names were randomly tagged to Metro halts like Garia Bazar (Kavi Nazrul), Bansdroni (Masterda Surya Sen), Naktala (Gitanjali) and Kudghat (Netaji).

Mamata had also proposed to name the interface between New Garia Metro station and the local train network after Ambedkar. When Mukul Roy took over rail ministry, he renamed it Pranavananda Halt.

In May 2013, Mamata renamed Dhakuria bridge as Shree Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Sarani and Chitpore Setu as Sri Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa Sarani.

With Bengal suddenly flush with more famous names worthy of being honoured than roads that could be named after them, the rename game took a bizarre turn. Pramathesh Barua Sarani was divided to accommodate Suchitra Sen's name when the civic body realised that Mamata's plan to name Ballygunge Circular Road after her couldn't be implemented for a technical reason: the road had already been named after the filmmaker-actor. The solution? Divide the 2.5km road into two.

Would you call the Parama-Park Circus flyover Ma? Tell