Safety over Sealdah trade

Traders in the bustling marketplace under the Sealdah flyover and along its piers were told on Saturday that they might need to temporarily relocate for civic engineers to carry out overdue inspections of the structure and commission repairs wherever required.

By Subhajoy Roy in Sealdah
  • Published 9.09.18
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A CMDA engineer (third from left) inspects the underside of the Sealdah flyover on Saturday. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta

Sealdah: Traders in the bustling marketplace under the Sealdah flyover and along its piers were told on Saturday that they might need to temporarily relocate for civic engineers to carry out overdue inspections of the structure and commission repairs wherever required.

The traders had requested that they be allowed to stay put till Durga Puja but municipal commissioner Khalil Ahmed told them that safety was the priority. "If the engineers feel some repairs must be done immediately, that will be done. If they feel repairs can be postponed beyond Puja, they will do so," an official quoted him as saying.

A civic official said there were about 930 shops in Sisir Market, the official name of the trade hub operating under the flyover. These shops run with licences issued by the civic authorities. Many other stalls and street vendors illegally occupy the remaining space below the flyover.

"Many shops have built false ceilings that block the view of the bridge from below. If required, these shop owners have to remove the false ceilings so that our engineers can conduct a proper inspection," an official said.

The government's stand that traders must relocate if required was conveyed to them during a meeting at the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) headquarters.

The meeting had been convened after chief minister Mamata Banerjee said two days ago that the government was unable to get traders to vacate their stalls for inspection and repair of any wear and tear on the underside of the Sealdah flyover.

"We have tried to repair the Sealdah flyover but there are markets below. Nobody is listening to us. Nobody is moving," Mamata had said during a news conference at Nabanna, the state secretariat, on Thursday.

A team from the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) conducted a two-hour inspection of the underside on Saturday and more such exercises have been planned over the next few days.

An engineer in the CMDA told Metro that inspecting the Sealdah flyover from below was difficult because of the presence of a large army of traders, many of them unlicensed. "Encroachment is rampant under the Sealdah flyover. This prevents regular inspection of the structure from below," he said.

Aparajita Dasgupta, the chairperson of Borough V of the CMC, attended the meeting along with the councillors of wards 36 and 50. "The chairperson and the local councillors were asked to be present so that they could convince the traders about the need to repair the flyover," an official said.

Sealdah flyover isn't the only such structure in Calcutta under which trade thrives, mostly illegally. "Below Bijon Setu, you will see many stalls that are impediments to regular inspections. The CMC and the CMDA must look at other flyovers and bridges, too," a police officer said.