Delay costs JU teacher leg

A Jadavpur University teacher lost his right leg while crossing the railway tracks at Jadavpur, where an underpass that could have prevented the tragedy has been two years in the making.

Thousands daily cross the tracks at Jadavpur in violation of rules — and risking their lives or limbs — to avoid a 2km detour via the Prince Anwar Shah Road connector or Sukanta Setu. The alternative is to enter Jadavpur station, 50 metres away, after buying a platform ticket and cross over the platforms using the foot overbridge.

RailNews highlighted the delay in the construction of the 15-metre underpass on 10th June ( which was supposed to be ready in two months but is incomplete even two years after work had started.

Gopinath Bhandari, an associate professor of civil engineering, was on his way to JU from Garfa when he slipped and fell on the tracks at 11.10am. A Canning-bound train severed his right leg.

The 47-year-old resident of Dhakuria lay bleeding for close to 30 minutes, till a team from the university ran to the spot and picked him up.

He was taken to KPC Medical College and Hospital and later shifted to Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences, where doctors had to amputate his right leg. “Another surgery will be performed to remove dead tissues, muscles and fragments of bones,” said Surya Udai Singh, the head of orthopaedics at the hospital.

Bhandari, the doctor said, was in the intensive care unit and on high doses of antibiotics and painkillers.

“By the time we reached the spot a group had gathered around Bhandari but no one was helping him. Some had even snatched his mobile phones and rings but a local shopkeeper collected them and handed them to us,” said Santwan Chatterjee, another teacher at JU.

Family members said Bhandari had gone to his in-laws’ house on the occasion of Jamai Sashthi and was in a hurry to get back to the university to check postgraduation answer scripts.

“The route he took today was not the one he usually takes on his way to work. Today he took a rickshaw to Jadavpur and was crossing the tracks on his way to the university when the accident occurred,” said Sanjay Das, Bhandari’s brother-in-law.

According to the Indian Railways Act, 1989, if any person jumps a railway track, he is punishable with imprisonment for up to six months or fine of up to Rs 1,000, or both.

There used to be a level crossing at the accident site till Sukanta Setu — which links Garfa with Jadavpur via the Sulekha crossing — came up eight years ago. “After the overbridge was opened to traffic, the railways stopped vehicular movement across the tracks and removed the level crossing,” said an official.

To ease pedestrian movement, the railways had planned to construct the underpass and make the tracks inaccessible to pedestrians by erecting walls along them.

“The underpass is way behind schedule because of a number of reasons, including delay in disbursement of funds, callous attitude of the contractors, lack of planning and resistance from some local groups. Despite the odds, we are trying to finish work by next month,” said an Eastern Railway engineer present at the spot on Friday.

“We have been telling the engineers to speed up work for the past two years. But they ignore us. Almost everyday people stumble while crossing the tracks and today the worst has happened,” said Tanmay Dutta, who runs a shop beside the station.