Puja footfall under cloud

Sponsors worried about Behala accessibility

By Subhajoy Roy in Behala
  • Published 10.09.18

The framework of the pandals of Adarsha Palli (top) and (above) Behala 
Natun Dal on Sunday. Pictures by Bishwarup Dutta

Behala: The Majerhat bridge collapse could affect some of Behala's biggest Durga pujas as sponsors have expressed doubt over the possible footfall.

Several puja organisers apprehend a dip in the numbers because of accessibility problems.

They have, however, pinned their hopes on the possibility of a new road that would connect either side of the Majerhat bridge and provide people with a straight route to Behala.

"Some advertisers have asked us if we will have the same footfall like previous years," Debabrata Mukherjee, the president of Behala Natun Dal, said.

The club holds the puja near the Rai Bahadur Road-James Long Sarani crossing.

"I think they are worried that the bridge collapse might reduce the number of pandal hoppers," he said.

Mukherjee said he had told advertisers that the government had plans to make some arrangement so that travelling to Behala is not a problem.

"I read in the newspapers the government plans to build a road along Majerhat bridge that will allow vehicles to travel straight instead of making a a detour through Alipore or New Alipore."

If the plan does materialise, advertisers won't have to worry about their advertisements not grabbing eyeballs, he said.

Since the collapse, people have had to travel several kilometres extra and spend more time on roads to reach or leave Behala on weekdays.

Police have been diverting vehicles to lesser-known roads but haven't been able to avoid the long queues, especially during rush hour.

The detour and the wait on road have led to expenses shooting up. "Transporters are charging more because they have to spend more time on the road and travel more to ferry the materials," an organiser said.

At Adarsha Palli, another crowd-puller in Behala, organisers are worried about a dip in footfall.

"About one million people visited our pandal last year, but I fear a significant dip this year," Dipankar Barik, the secretary of Adarsha Palli, said.

The Adarsha Palli puja is held on Rai Bahadur Road.

Sayantan Ghosh, the club secretary, said they hoped the spirit of Puja revellers would help tide them over.

A few other organisers said the picture would be clearer in a couple of weeks.