The intersection near Nagerbazar where a five-year-old girl was run over by a bus on Tuesday morning had two civic volunteers managing traffic the next day.
The decision to deploy civic volunteers at the crossing of Jessore Road and the lane that leads to the gate of Christ Church Girls’ High School was taken after Anushka Kar, a kindergarten student there, was tragically killed. The accident occurred when the child’s mother accidentally let go of her hand while crossing Jessore Road after alighting from the bus.
The two civic volunteers did not have much to do on Wednesday because Christ Church Girls’ High School was closed to mourn Anushka’s death. For pedestrians on either flank of Jessore Road, there was little option but to walk down almost the middle of the carriageway because of the footpath being blocked.
“We have decided to deploy civic volunteers at the crossing to help students of the school and other pedestrians to cross the road,” said an officer of the Nagerbazar Traffic Guard.
Harendra Singh, the chairman of Dum Dum Municipality, said he was aware of the footpath near the school turning into a dump. “Jessore Road and its footpaths are maintained by the PWD. The PWD has started repairing the thoroughfare from the airport end. We expect the footpath to be reclaimed shortly.”
Pradip Dey, a resident of the area, said the stretch where Anushka was killed had always been a danger to pedestrians. “We fear crossing the road. You have to look back as you walk forward. Even after crossing the bus stop, walking down the other side of the road is a hassle because it is so dirty.”
The Nagerbazar Traffic Guard has 45 civic volunteers, most of whom are deployed on Dum Dum Road because several educational institutions are located along that thoroughfare. “Our volunteers also manage traffic along the 5km stretch of Jessore Road within our jurisdiction. We need 50 more volunteers immediately to meet the requirements,” an officer said.
While two civic volunteers were stationed near the Clive House bus stop to help pedestrians cross Jessore Road, there was no sign of any initiative to curb speeding and/or dangerous driving. “Civic volunteers are not authorised to prosecute anyone. Bus drivers compete with one another to pick up students and guardians as quickly as possible when school gives,” a resident of the area said.
The police said the impact of the deployment would be felt when Christ Church Girls’ High School reopens. “Let’s see what happens on Friday when the school opens and gives over,” the officer said.
Anushka’s death had triggered a four-hour blockade of Jessore Road.