In the wake of the Majherhat bridge collapse, the state government on Saturday restricted all kinds of goods vehicles from plying on four Kolkata bridges in addition to issuing a notification banning movement of 20 wheelers throughout the state.
Kolkata Police issued a separate letter in this regard to Kolkata Port Trust saying that heavy vehicles would not be allowed to enter or exit from the port area.
At a Press conference in Nabanna on Saturday, Mr Rajeev Kumar, commissioner, Kolkata Police, said Bijan Setu, Tollygunge Circular Setu, Arabinda Setu and Belgachi bridge are not in good condition. “No goods vehicles would be allowed on these bridges till they are repaired. The repair work would start soon,” Mr Kumar said.
All these Kolkata bridges see heavy vehicular traffic and serve as major connectors in their respective areas. Bijan Setu connects EM Bypass connector with south Kolkata and Arabinda Setu in Ultadanga connects VIP Road with EM Bypass. The location of Belgachia bridge is somewhat similar to that of Majherhat bridge as the Kolkata station is nearby and rail lines run below it.
Meanwhile, in view of problems faced by the people of Majherhat area in commuting to Behala or Esplanade, the state PWD has proposed construction of a concrete road adjacent to the rail line and a meeting in this regard will be held among Railways, police and PWD.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has identified 20 bridges as “weak” including Santragachi flyover, Sealdah flyover, Belgachia flyover and Chingrighata flyover. She said that repair work on these flyovers will be taken up and traffic restrictions will be imposed for the purpose.
A letter addressed to the chairman of the Kolkata Port Trust said: “In reference to the decision taken by the Government of West Bengal in view of the impending situation due to collapse of the Majherhat Bridge and the resulting traffic situation, it is requested that all goods vehicles having 20 wheels or more should not be allowed to enter into or exit from the Kolkata Port Area.”
On being asked about the total number of 20 wheelers that enter the city by road, Mr Vinit Kumar, chairman of KoPT, said: “We do not have truck-wise information. Normally the 40 feet containers are carried in such 20 wheeler trucks but the 20 feet containers are generally carried in smaller trucks. After receiving the notification, we held a meeting on Saturday with all our stakeholders to figure out the alternatives. We are also looking at starting RoRo vessels for inland movement of cargo.”
A directive has been issued by the state transport department banning the plying of 18 and 20 wheeler trailers or trucks throughout the state, on the grounds of the damage caused to roads and bridges. The decision was taken to increase the longevity of roads and bridges.
Miss Banerjee had earlier announced that heavy goods vehicles will not be allowed to ply on state highways and bridges following the collapse of the Majherhat bridge.
The decision has, however, caused resentment among heavy goods vehicle operators and it is being apprehended that it will adversely affect the industry’s growth.
The CM should immediately stop overloading of goods, which adversely affects the condition of roads and bridges, instead of imposing the restriction on the entry of heavy goods vehicle, said Mr Subash Bose, general secretary of the Federation of West Bengal Truck Operators Association. The decision will also affect the revenue earning of state-run toll plazas, he said.