Puja Rush Beats Rain, Traffic Crush In Kolkata


Kolkata: The combined effect of fickle weather and traumatic traffic conditions failed to dampen the festive spirit as revellers braved all eventualities and jumped on the Puja bandwagon on Sashthi.

If Deshapriya Park was the show-stopper on Panchami, College Square, Nalin Sarkar Street, Suruchi Sangha, Chetla Agrani and Sreebhumi Sporting lived up to the expectation and stole the show on an overcast Sashthi. Vehicles crawled on CR Avenue, Hatibagan, Esplanade, Sarat Bose Road, MG Road, Rashbehari Avenue Connector and VIP Road for the better part of the day.

The day got off to a shaky start with the sun playing hide-and-seek and occasional showers threatening to spoil the day. But much to the relief of pandal-hoppers, rain ceased on time, allowing revellers to return to the streets. It could be a brief respite, though, warned the Met office. A cyclonic circulation now hovering over the Bay of Bengal could lead to heavy showers on October 10 (Nabami) and October 11 (Dashami).

“The cyclonic circulation was responsible for the shower on Friday . It will intensify and initially move towards Odisha, before taking a turn towards Gangetic Bengal on October 9. It could trigger heavy showers on Nabami and Dashami. But the rain could be restricted to daytime,” said GK Das, director, Regional Meteorological Centre.

By the time rain stopped, a religious procession held traffic hostage on APC Road, Surya Sen Street, College Street and Eden Hospital Road. Thousands had to leave their vehicles and walk several kilometres to pandals. Friday being the last working day before pujas, the crowd of revellers merged with the stream of home-bound commuters.

As evening set in, chaos took over with the police struggling to cop with crowd pressure. Even JL Nehru Road, which remains free of traffic snarls during pujas, was affected on Friday . With most policemen being moved to the big pujas, there were fewer personnel on duty on the arterial road.

Behala sprung a surprise, though. Notorious for traffic mess, the southern fringe remained comparatively free of congestions. Traffic moved fairly smoothly without major disruptions between Taratala and Behala crossing. But the north made up for the faster pace of south on Friday .Nothing moved on the Tullah bridge for nearly two hours in the afternoon following the breakdown of two vehicles.The derailment of a tram triggered a major crisis at Shyambazar in the evening.

No sooner had the traffic eased on Tallah bridge, the Chaltabagan puja brought everything to a halt. With thousands marching to the pandal, Amherst Street choked. It virtually snapped the northsouth connect. The entire stretch from Hedua to Hatibagan came to a stop as well with all roads in the vicinity leading to four star attractions in the area -Sikdar Bagan, Nalin Sarkar Street, Kashi Bose Lane and Nabin Pally .

Down south, Deshapriya Park -with its thousandarm idol -continued to hog the limelight. But the crowd didn’t quite spill on to Rashbehari Avenue. Traffic moved smoothly along the road, unlike Thursday when everything had come to a standstill.