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Home > News > Report

Kolkata's image takes a beating

Amitava Roy in Kolkata | September 21, 2007 17:43 IST

A computer engineer bleeds to death on the road after an accident, a blind man carrying a disabled concession card is forced off a bus, an auto driver slaps a college student for daring to protest rash driving -- such incidents of misbehaviour by Kolkata's transport operators and the apathy of citizens have tarnished the image of the city.

On September 18 morning, middle-aged Satyanarayan Nag was attacked by the helper of a chartered bus at Talapark in north Kolkata for questioning his refusal to halt the vehicle at the designated stop.

Teesta Banerjee, a housewife, was pushed off a running bus at Behala area after an altercation over the bus fare. She was injured and following a police complaint, the rogue conductor was arrested. Earlier this month, a college lecturer was thrown out of a running bus by the conductor for protesting rash driving.

And, it is a blame game as usual. Bus unions blame the commission system of payment, while the owners claim they have little control over the heavily-unionised staff.

West Bengal Home Secretary P R Roy has regretted that the culprits were being released on bail.

"So what can we do," he asks.

Roy said the transport department had been asked to look into the misbehaviour by bus conductors and helpers.

"We have to travel on the roads with our lives in our hands as private buses, minibuses and autorickshaws race each other in a mad rush for getting more passengers," said Mainak Bose, who has to daily move around in the city as he is in a marketing job.

The latest such incident occurred on Thursday when a college girl was slapped by an auto driver at Tollygunge in south Kolkata just because she had asked him to drive carefully.

West Bengal Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) Raj Kanojia said: "We are holding a meeting with superintendents of police of districts adjoining the metropolis to curb the menace of illegal autorickshaws."

"We are also talking to the autorickshaw unions as well as bus workers' unions to find out ways to ensure good behaviour by the staff," he said.

With the increasing graph of road accidents, the city administration is planning to clean up the encroachments on the main roads.

"We are taking steps to curb this menace. Police help has been sought to clear the footpaths at busy intersections," Kolkata Mayor Bikash Bhattacharya told PTI.

"We had asked the hawkers to leave 50 feet from all busy intersections, but since there has been little response, we will have to take more strict measures," the mayor said, adding that pedestrians also should be more careful while crossing or walking down roads.

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