Covid: Autos out on Calcutta roads despite curbs
Several autorickshaw operators have resumed service in parts of north Calcutta, to ferry people to workplace or markets, despite restrictions on public transport imposed by the state government.
Auto operators on at least seven routes from Ultadanga and Maniktala — connecting parts of Gouribari, BK Pal Avenue, Sovabazar ghat, Ahiritola ghat, Nimtola ghat and Baguiati — are plying their vehicles in the morning office hours, catering to commuters who would have otherwise had to walk long stretches to reach their workplace.
Most of the passengers are employees of shops that are allowed to remain open between noon and 3pm.
Many of the shops are located along Ultadanga Main Road, APC Road, BK Pal Avenue, Maniktala Main Road and Beadon Street, the traditional trade hubs of north Calcutta.
For daily wage earners, the autos have emerged as the cheapest mode of transport in the absence of buses and minibuses.
The fares are often decided at the spot and even if drivers demand a few rupees more most passengers don’t complain.
“Some owner-drivers have been plying their autos in the morning,” said Barun Paul, a leader of an autorickshaw operators’ union that controls a fleet of over 1,200 vehicles that ply between Ultadanga and Sovabazar in north Calcutta.
“The original routes have been truncated and tailor-made to meet the demands of the passengers,” he said.
“I take a ride in two autos to reach my shop on BK Pal Avenue. I am paying more than before, when I used to travel by buses. But thanks to the autos, I can now reach my workplace,” said Samiran Maity, a Baguiati resident who works at a sanitation and plumbing shop.
Police said they had decided not to come down too heavily on the violators.
Red Road will be closed to vehicles from 6am on June 5 to 10pm on June 17 for the replacement of damaged masonry arch culvert on the artery by the public works department, said traffic department officers.
Vehicles coming from the side of Race course towards central Calcutta will be diverted through JN Island, Dufferin Road, Mayo Road and Netaji Statue, while the south bound traffic on Red Road will be diverted through Netaji Statue, Mayo Road and Dufferin Road.