Monday, 30th October 2017

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Parking torment back in Calcutta's Ballygunge

Residents complain of aggressive behaviour by drivers

By Rith Basu in Calcutta
  • Published 30.04.19, 1:33 AM
  • Updated 30.04.19, 1:33 AM
  • 3 mins read
Pool cars parked along Block Seven, which connects Cornfield Road with Mandeville Garden, around noon on Monday. Picture by Gautam Bose

Parking menace is back on roads in the vicinity of South Point School after a brief respite.

Minibuses and pool cars ferrying students of the Ballygunge school were parked on footpaths and at some places they blocked the entire breadth of a road in residential pockets around Cornfield Road and Mandeville Garden on Monday.

The sight was no different from what it had been like before a group of elderly residents organised a blockade last Monday to protest the daily traffic chaos.

Residents told Metro on Monday that the situation improved for a couple of days after the protest but vehicles and their drivers were back to making their lives miserable again.

An octogenarian, who parks his car on the road in front of his house, said he could not move his vehicle as the entire stretch was clogged on Monday.

Others complained about the behaviour of carpool drivers and nannies, alleging that they at times threatened to assault residents when confronted. The residents also complained of rash driving of vehicles ferrying students of South Point School.

On Monday afternoon, a Force minibus and a Tata Sumo were parked right on a footpath along Cornfield Road, blocking the main gate of an apartment building.

On Block Seven, a meandering road connecting Cornfield Road with Mandeville Garden, pool cars were parked on either side from 11.30am till the morning section of the school ends and the day section starts at 1pm.

The pool car operators did not park their vehicles along the road for a couple of days after residents blocked the entrance from Cornfield Road on Tuesday. “It’s back to square one,” a resident said.

“I think policing here today was slack, compared with the vigil after our protest. It is true that carpool vehicles are not being parked here all day like before but the road was as chaotic between 11.30am and at 1pm as it was before,” said Dinesh Kumar, 82, a resident of the area for 40 years.

He said the pool car drivers were reckless and he had “almost been knocked down” by one of them a few days ago. “The car screeched to a halt and I was saved by a whisker. Often the road is clogged in such a way that you cannot even walk across it, let alone take your car out,” said Kumar.

Nandita Dasgupta, an elderly teacher, said a “maid” accompanying a pool car pushed her on Thursday after she had asked the driver to move the vehicle. “Aapni ki korte paren dekhe nebo. Gari ekhanei park kora thakbey (We will see what you can do. The car will be parked right here),” Dasgupta quoted the driver as saying.

Vehicles, including pool cars, parked along Block Seven on Monday
Vehicles, including pool cars, parked along Block Seven on Monday Picture by Gautam Bose

Constant honking and diesel fumes are among the other tormentors. “I have a 70-year-old patient at home suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and a heart block. I have to keep the doors and windows shut the entire day,” Dasgupta said.

The morning session of the high school of South Point starts at 6.40am and goes on till 11.15am. The afternoon section stretches from 12.20pm to 5.30pm.

The classes in the junior sections start and end at various times between 7am and 11.45am. Which means the parking menace continues from 6.30 in the morning till 6 in the evening.

Sudip Dutta of the Pool Car Owners’ Association said: “We have asked the police to provide us a parking zone near the school where we can keep 10 cars on a rotational basis against a fee. Otherwise, children, especially of the primary section, will have to walk a long distance or wait for long for their cars to arrive.”

He denied that drivers or ayahs of pool cars misbehaved with residents.

The officer-in-charge of the South East Traffic Guard, Anjan Dutta, said the police were not “allowing parking like before” after last week’s protest but it was difficult to bar pool cars from the lanes around South Point.

“It is not possible for the police to accept the residents’ demand and bar pool cars’ entry into the area. A no-entry rule can be made for heavy vehicles or light vehicles or both, but not for light vehicles of a certain type, like pool cars. If carpools have to be denied entry, the same rule will apply for other cars,” Dutta said.

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