ER fixes a month’s deadline for delayed underpass at Jadavpur

Eastern Railway has fixed a month’s deadline to complete the construction of an underpass at Jadavpur station that has been in the making for close to two years.

The lack of an underpass at the spot cost a Jadavpur University teacher one of his legs last Friday while he was crossing the tracks. Hundreds run the same risk or more.

A railway official said Cosmos Construction, a Naihati-based company assigned the task of building the underpass, has been asked to finish all pending work and open the utility for public by July. Failure to do so will earn the company punishment ranging from payment refusal to temporary suspension.

“The underpass was supposed to be completed long ago. But a lackadaisical attitude of the construction agency has led to the delay. We have given them a month’s deadline to finish construction and deployed extra personnel to oversee work,” the railway official said.

Work on the underpass connecting KS Roy Road at Jadavpur to Jheel Road at Garfa across 15m-wide railway tracks started in August 2011 and was supposed to be completed by the end of the year.

Metro had on June 10 published a report highlighting how the incomplete subway and the part of it above the ground were filled with water and filth. The electrical and sewerage connections are incomplete and wooden planks, stone chips, nails and iron rods lying dumped around the structure.

Official said the Friday morning tragedy — JU teacher Gopinath Bhandari slipped while crossing the tracks and a suburban train ran over his right leg — triggered a flurry of activity among railway officials, who decided to speed up work.

Even on the day of the accident, not one worker could be seen at the site. An official said they had all taken leave to celebrate Jamai Sashthi.

On Tuesday, however, the picture was different. At least 30 employees were working at the site, instilling hope among thousands who are forced to risk their lives and cross the tracks daily to avoid a 2km detour via the Prince Anwar Shah Road connector or Sukanta Setu.

“The railways have asked us to speed up work and finish the project within a month. They have even promised us to pay our dues at the earliest. We are working accordingly and are hoping to get the subway ready within 20 days. In the next few days the mandatory safety tests will be conducted, after which the subway can be opened for public,” said a senior official of the construction agency.

At the accident site there used to be a level crossing till Sukanta Setu came up eight years ago. After the bridge was constructed joining Garfa with Jadavpur via the Sulekha crossing, the railways removed the level crossing and stopped vehicular and pedestrian movement across the tracks.

“After last Friday’s accident I shiver whenever I have to cross the tracks. I am praying for the underpass to be ready at the earliest,” said Juthika Mukherjee, 57, a resident of the area.