Wednesday, April 16, 2008

How to kill a town...


Placed below is an excerpt from the Telegraph today.

Worry over cable holes on road
- Telecom giant and PWD race against monsoon

Kalimpong, April 15: A private telecom company has dug up long stretches of the most important road running through the subdivision to lay optical fibre cables, raising the spectre of a commuters’ nightmare if the task is not completed before the onset of monsoon.

Vodafone Essar Ltd is laying the cables from Chitrey on NH31A to Pedong via Kalimpong town and from there up to the Sikkim border. The existing drains alongside the road are being dug up for the work and already, transport operators and commuters are complaining about how narrow and dusty the stretches have become.

“Many parts of the road were only recently repaired after they were damaged during monsoon last year. Now, it is back to square one,” said Pranay Thapa, a driver.

However, both the mobile company and the Bengal public works department (PWD), which maintains the 29km stretch from Chitrey to Algarah (Lower Rishi and Upper Rishi Roads), promised to complete the major part of the work before the rains.

“The company has deposited about Rs 72 lakh with us. As soon as they finish laying the cables, we will begin constructing the drains and repair the stretches of the road that might have been damaged because of the digging,” said Nihir Kanti Biswas, the executive engineer of the PWD’s north Bengal construction division.

“We will employ a strong work force and should complete our part of the work within 15-20 days of taking up the job,” said Biswas.

An official of the mobile firm told The Telegraph over the phone from Calcutta that most of the work would be over before the rains arrive in early June. “Thereafter, work will be taken up only along small stretches,” the official added.

Environment activists here, however, are not willing to take the assurances at face value.

“We will take up the matter with the administration. Here we are crying ourselves hoarse about the choked jhoras (streams) that trigger landslides and these people dig up the channels alongside the road,” said Praful Rao, the convener of Save The Hills, an NGO.

P.T. Sherpa, the subdivisional officer of Kalimpong, has already sounded a warning to the PWD, asking them to complete the work soon.

“The roads are already in a mess. If they don’t complete the work quickly, I may have to initiate administrative action,” said Sherpa.


Comment by praful rao

Both Mr NP Dixit, President of Citizen's Right Forum, Kalimpong and I have subsequently spoken to Vodafone officials in Kolkatta...they have assured us that the work will be complete in 10days time...something which I personally doubt.
The SDO, Kalimpong also has been apprised of the issue by us.

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