KOLKATA: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s beautification plan in Kolkata doesn’t seem to have gone down well with a section of residents in and around Prince Anwar Shah Road. The under-construction median divider, running along the 5-km stretch from Tipu Sultan Mosque to South City mall, has been demolished at places to facilitate jaywalking. Officials of the KMC borough office, which is located just around the corner, has preferred to keep their eyes closed all the while.
With broken slabs lying scattered across the roads, iron rods were found dangerously jutting out of the concrete structures at various points near Navina cinema hall, Jogesh Chandra College and the Tipu Sultan mosque. “If we want to cross the street for even a cup of tea, we have to walk the whole stretch to Jogesh Chandra College crossing. We had asked the construction people to leave a narrow space in between the divider to facilitate our movement. But our suggestions fell on deaf ears,” said Sushil Shah, a shop-keeper near Indrani Park.
Prince Anwar Shah Road is one of the busiest stretch and the fastest connector to EM Bypass. The median divider is supposed to restrict any violation by the two-way traffic and to stop the pedestrians from crossing the busy roads. “It is not convenient to walk all the way to a crossing to cross the street, so either you climb up the boulevard or break it to create space,” said Sanjay Shaw, an employee at a nearby medical shop.
The residents complain that the Kolkata Municipal Corporation officials supervising the beautification project should have thought about creating such spaces as there are major landmarks like the Navina Cinema or Jogesh Chandra College on this stretch. “College students face a lot of problems and people cannot cross the street easily even if they have to go to the theatre. So, breaking it down is the best option,” said Tapan Mondol, a sweet-shop owner near the college. Mondol does not know who broke down the divider but is “happy” that some people in the locality did have the courage to do something like that.
“There is Tollygunge Girls’ School and Biswaspara Masjid opposite Navina cinema hall. During Ramzan, we face a lot of problems while we cross the street to go to the mosque. And the crevice serves our purpose,” said Nazo Bewa, an elderly shopkeeper near Navina cinema. Bewa informed that the divider was broken 10-15 days ago.” Though, I have heard that it will be re-built again,” added Bewa.
A senior official of the KMC civil engineering department conceded that local residents had demanded some space along the boulevard be kept open for them to cross the road. “We are discussing the issue with the Kolkata police officials. We will also talk to the local residents. After that a decision in this regard would be taken,” the official said.
Others, particularly motorists, do not share Mondol or Bewa’s views on the matter. “I was happy when I saw the median being constructed. Within days, I saw portions being demolished. Women and children were trying to squeeze through the exposed rods. Now, motorists will have to be extra cautious while driving along the Anwar Shah Road. I don’t know why such illegal acts are being allowed,” said noted plastic surgeon Shankar Chatterjee.
Also, the green cover on the dividers has already been reduced to dump yards. The incomplete boulevard has been painted with betel-juice marks all over the stretch.