Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday declared that no vehicle weighing over three tonnes would be allowed to take Tallah bridge in north Kolkata until repair work was completed.
“We wanted to run some buses on Tallah bridge. But RITES (a government enterprise under Railways) strictly denied it. So, we have no other option. No buses and mini buses will be allowed until all repair works are completed,” Banerjee said.
The highways division of engineering subsidiary, RITES, had inspected the Tallah bridge in August and submitted a report.
Keeping the Durga Puja rush in mind, the government had twice held meetings with all stake holders to work out a plan. However, police inspection and RITES report found the bridge to be weak. Banerjee blamed the Centre for not giving timely permission to carry out restoration work on the Tallah Bridge, a portion of which belongs to the Railways. She claimed that the Centre took one year to give clearance for carrying out the restoration work, despite alerting it on time.
“Under the leadership of new Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha, a committee will look after the entire repair work,” the CM said.
According to experts, the inherent strength of Tallah bridge has eroded significantly. The support that holds the deck or the surface of the bridge has become too weak. The bridge’s own load can trigger its collapse.
Meanwhile, the commuters continue to dig deeper into their pockets as taxi and other vehicles are charging double the normal fare. “Buses are too crowded, so is the Metro. The diverted routes are too long,” said Sandhya Rani Pal, a resident of Kamarhati area, who used to take the Tallah bridge daily till buses were banned. The 625-m bridge is a key link between the city centre and its northern parts like Shyambazar, Chiria More, Sinthee and Dunlop, along with some parts of North 24 Parganas district.
Engineers from railways, RITES and the PWD are together conducting a detailed health study of the bridge. There is a meeting on October 12, when a report will be submitted.
1,600 buses, extra trams for pandal hoppers
The State Transport Department will run nearly 1,600 buses during Durga Puja.
Last month state Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikari released Puja Parikrama booklet, a pandal hopper’s guide with details of special arrangements made by the transport corporations.
According to officials, the Transport Department had collected revenues of Rs 10 crore through special services during Durga puja last year. Nearly six to eight lakh people had enjoyed the benefits of these services.
“Additional bus and tram facilities will be available till late in the night during the Pujas to ensure that people are not inconvenienced. Like every year, we are focussed to provide all revellers and pandal hoppers a nice puja experience,” said Adhikari.
The Transport Department has also announced several packages for people who wish to witness Durga Puja celebrations in the districts. People can travel to several districts, including Hooghly, Purulia, Bankura, and Midnapore, where the festival is celebrated with equal grandeur as in Kolkata. A few packages will include a trip to the old and traditional Pujas held in households of Hooghly and a ride on Roll-on Roll-off (RoRo) vessels on the Ichamati river in Taki, North 24-Parganas, during immersion rituals. On Taki river, boats from both India and Bangladesh come together to immerse their idols, which attracts a huge crowd from both the countries.
A special agreement has been made for the members of Snehodiya, an old-age home in New Town. They will be part of a package through which senior citizens will be able to enjoy hassle free Durga puja.
3 new bridges opened to ease Puja traffic
A day after closing the “very weak” Tallah bridge in north Kolkata, the state government unveiled three new bridges in the city on Monday to manage the Durga Puja traffic rush.
While Izatullah Lane bridge and Karunamoyee canal bridge were opened as an alternative for the residents of Behala in south Kolkata, a Bailey bridge was opened in Ultadanga to connect VIP Road to Metropolitan and EM Bypass.
“Three bridges have been launched, including two in south Kolkata where collapse of Majerhat bridge last year caused immense problems to the residents, especially of Behala,” said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday.
“After Majerhat bridge caved in last September, we had decided to provide alternative routes to help Behala residents commute to other parts of the city. Built at an estimated cost of Rs 6 crore, the 21-m long Izatullah Lane bridge and 29-m long Karunamoyee canal bridge, which cost Rs 7 crore, will ease the pressure on Durgapur and Tollygunge bridges. This will help people from Behala and adjoining areas reach Tollygunge Metro station and Bangur hospital easily. It is a Puja gift to the city from Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA),” state minister and KMDA chairman Firhad Hakim said.
The Bailey bridge was planned after Ultadanga flyover was shut for vehicles in July after a routine examination by a KMDA team. Its Dum Dum Airport-bound flank was opened for traffic after three days, but Bypass-bound flank is still closed for repair work.
“There are many Pujas in Dum Dum and Lake Town areas, which draw huge crowd. A Bailey bridge will surely ease traffic congestion,” said a traffic official.