Monday, April 23, 2012

Eviction drive clears road for Bypass expansion, work picks up speed

[Trees have been felled, people have been evicted but TT and its loyal readership doesn't care: as long as we have more cars which can ply unfettered through filled in wetlands with passengers looking at beautified green zones, all is well with the world]

It takes Priyanshi Durbha almost 40 minutes to reach the Ruby rotary from Udita Housing Complex in Ajaynagar, where she stays, during the morning rush hour. But there is relief in sight for the Presidency University student with the stretch between Ajaynagar and Patuli cleared of encroachments and the EM Bypass widening project getting a boost.
“If this project actually succeeds in decongesting the Bypass, it will be of great help to commuters,” Durbha said. “It takes me almost 40 minutes to reach Ruby on way to the university. I hope that vehicles move faster once the project is complete.”
The plan is to build dedicated lanes for buses and other vehicles on the Bypass. The Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS) is already operational in cities such as Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Jaipur.
“The idea is to decongest the entire 15.5km Bypass. Private vehicles will no longer need to wait as a bus picks up passengers. Buses too will be able to ply faster as they will have dedicated lanes,” said Vivek Bharadwaj, the chief executive officer of the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA).
Besides pavements for pedestrians, a green zone and a cycle track are also on the anvil.
Bharadwaj admitted that last month’s eviction drive between Ajaynagar and Patuli had helped step up work.
“It’s a step ahead for us. We will finish the landfilling for building the new roads before monsoon. That will allow the earth to settle during the rains,” he said.
A team of CMDA officials and police bulldozed about 1,500 shops and stalls along the Bypass near Patuli on March 23, thus clearing the way for landfilling.
Landfilling started from the Metropolitan area last year but progress had been slow. “There are several stretches between Metropolitan and Dhalai bridge where we could not work because of encroachments,” a CMDA official said.
Shops lining both flanks of the road between Ajaynagar and Patuli stalled work and the landfilling could not proceed further south. Work has resume after the recent eviction.
“It will need another 18 months for the BRTS to get running. After landfilling, several layers will be added before the bituminous covering is done,” said a senior CMDA official.
The BRTS was supposed to be functional from December 2011 but work was delayed because of several hurdles.
The first speedbreaker came in the form of a disagreement between agencies regarding the location of the bus track. “It had been planned that the bus lanes would be on the two sides but the proposal was scrapped later. The bus lanes will now be built next to the median,” Bharadwaj said.
A corridor will be built from the bus stops to the traffic light. Passengers getting off a bus will walk through the corridor to reach the signal. “Passengers will get off the bus and cross the road at the zebra crossing. Those trying to board a bus will reach the bus lane through the zebra crossing and then walk through the corridor to the bus stop,” Bharadwaj said.
Despite work picking up pace, there are apprehensions that the 18-month deadline will be missed. “Very little work has been completed between Metropolitan and the entry to Salt Lake. There are some encroachments on this stretch too,” said the official.
Bharadwaj admitted that there has been little progress on the northern end of Bypass but assured things would start moving soon. “We will remove the encroachments and work will continue at a steady pace. Widening the EM Bypass is a necessity to maintain a smooth flow of vehicles,” he said.
Residents, though happy about the widening of the Bypass, point out the project has its flipside too. “Many large trees have already been felled and I fear many more will be cut. The Bypass is no more the green stretch it used to be. It has become barren. I want the authorities to plant enough trees so that Bypass regains its greenery,” Durbha said.


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