Underpasses allow for uninterrupted flow of pedestrian movement separate from vehicular traffic. Hence, this facility provides complete separation of pedestrians from the vehicular traffic, thereby enabling safety of all. Studies speak something different. Extensive research has shown that several pedestrians prefer not to use such underpasses if they can cross the streets at the same or less amount of time. We wonder whether the study proves true in case of Kolkatans. Let’s find out through the eyes of our reporter Bijoy Roy.
The underpass at Jadavpur was inaugurated in 1999 by the then West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya. After Trinamool Congress Party came to power under the leadership of its supremo in 2011 by completely ousting the left government, another underpass was set up near the Jadavpur railway station. The previous was for avoiding the pedestrians’ movement along the roads while the latter was set up for ignoring the movements along the railway tracks. But our reporter finds out that the efforts of the 2 consecutive governments were meaningless as none of the underpasses are used today.
This alarming issue needs answers. But who will provide such answers – the pedestrians themselves or the authorities?
Some pedestrians claim that their old habits are too difficult to be forgotten easily, while others point out that it takes more amount of time if underpasses are used. Many pedestrians accused the authorities for the present scenario. They alleged that the inner parts of the underpasses are dirty and stinky enough for them to avoid. Krishna, a student of the Jadavpur University said, “I have always used this way to cross the railway tracks. Hence, it has become a habit.” Samir Naskar, an elderly person said, “My age has increased, which has made me impossible to climb stairs. Hence I use this way to cross the tracks.” On asking whether this would not cause a risk in his daily life, he accepted the risk and assured that he crosses with great caution.
Another shocking incident was witnessed while covering this story. A man with his little boy was using the tracks to cross while returning from the local market. On querying about this, he quite furiously asked our reporter to go and check the underpass himself as he claimed that it becomes impossible to walk in it. He even added that a small amount of rain would lead to the logging of knee-length water. He informed that this is the allegations raised by all the pedestrians of the locality.
No conversation could be done with any railway official. But a worker working at the Jadavpur station said on conditions of anonymity. He rubbished the claims of the pedestrians and said that it was the regular demands of the pedestrians themselves, that the underpass was built. But after their demands were fulfilled, they themselves refuse to use it. He added that if any incident occurs then they would accuse the Railways itself. He even said that the allegation of a stinky and dirty underpass was baseless. He said, “None are using it which has lead to the accumulation of garbage there. If they use the underpass, then naturally it would remain clean.”
The picture was almost the same at the Jadavpur’s 8B Bus stand. A few people were seen ‘using’ this underpass at the Jadavpur station road and 8B Bus stand intersection. Yes they are using but not for crossing roads but for having a good gossip moment. Several locals inform our reporter that after the inauguration of this underpass by Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, it was used initially. But as days passed by, it lessened. Thus, a fruitful approach leads to a futile one. Who is responsible? We leave it to our readers to answer!
Edited by Saheli Dey