English Bazaar’s wait for a rail under-pass does not seem to end, three years after the project kicked off in the Rathbhari area. Residents of the English Bazaar Municipality (EBM) are not happy with the tardy progress that the project has made in the past three years, while some are even accusing the Railways authorities in Malda of neglecting the same. Vehicular traffic across the railway line through the Rathbari area has come to a halt due to the project, forcing the residents there to take long detours. “Some are even risking their lives as they try to cross the railway tracks right at the project site,” a local man said, adding, “residents of various wards in Malda city adjacent the railway line are seeking answers from the Malda division authorities of the Eastern Railway.” Amid the dissatisfaction, Eastern Railway DRM of Malda, Yatindra Kumar, said the underpass would be opened very soon. “Hopefully, the underpass would be opened before Durga Puja,” Mr Kumar said today.
It may be noted here that the Rathbari area is known as the heart of the EBM along National Highway-34, where railway tracks cross the road. The Railways’ Malda division authorities plan to close the level crossing there and build an underpass to avoid the traffic jams and also to keep people safe. According to local residents, they have been facing this problem since 2019. “Today, because of this problem, people have to suffer extreme harassment as they go about earning their livelihood,” another resident lamented. “Milki, Shobhanagar, Manikchak and two or three wards of the EBM are facing a lot of problems when it comes to communication in the area. If you want to take a patient to the Malda Medical College Hospital for treatment during an emergency, you have to take a detour from the over-bridge,” the local added.
The area where the underpass is being constructed falls in Ward 24 of the EBM. Sutapa Ghosh, the councillor of the ward concerned, said, “When the railway department started this work, it had said that it would complete the work within a year. But today, it has been three years, and work has not been completed. We are not satisfied with this work of the railways.” The Railways, on the other hand, has said that the road will be opened on 15 August, and that the entire work will be completed by 15 September. “However, the way things are moving now, this deadline of the railway authorities is likely not to be met,” a local said. Malda DRM Yatindra Kumar said, “The work on the Rathbari underpass will be completed very soon. We will open the roads for the movement of people very soon. But the cover side work will continue. Hopefully, the road will be opened for traffic before Durga Puja.”