Ranghat, Aug. 4: Train services were disrupted for about three hours in Sealdah-Krishnanagar section under Sealdah North division of Eastern Railway during the peak hours of Saturday morning when a section of residents of Ranaghat backed by Trinamul Congress blocked railway tracks near Ranaghat station demanding an mtorable underpass connecting the eastern side of the town with western part. The agitators demanded that the existing underpass, preferably be reconstructed so that at least light vehicles and ambulances can access through it for public convenience.
The blockade that was put by the members of ‘Ranaghat Motorable Underpass Committee’ (RMUC) headed by local Trinanuml MP Tapas Mandal as its president and Trinamul ruled civic body chairman Parthasarathi Chatterjee as vice president, had began at 9am and continued upto 12in the noon causing major problems to students and officer goers. As a result of the blockade, train services in Ranaghat-Santipur, Ranaghat-Gede, Ranaghat-Lalgola, Ranaghat-Bangao were suspended prompting the ER authorities to cancel some trains in the division. The agitators, however, allowed Kolkata-Dhaka Maitree Express to pass.
The blockade was withdrawn after general manager of eastern railway Harindra Rao assured Chatterjee over phone to “consider” the demand at the earliest.
Chatterjee, who is also a former Trinamul MLA from Ranaghat said, “ER’s GM Harindra Rao called me and assured that demand of the motorable underpass would soon be considered in high power committee meeting. He has also said that a physical verification of land and infrastructure would soon be done by the railway”
“We lifted the indefinite blockade on the basis of assurance given the general manager. We know that the blockade created major trouble to hundreds of passengers, but we compelled do it as the people in Ranaghat and adjacent areas who mainly live in the western part of the town, have been suffering badly on regular basis”, Chatterjee added.
The railway track divided Ranaghat town in two parts. But, there is no short motorable connection between the two sides. As a result, people from eastern side find it difficult to come western side, particularly to visit hospital, court and other important administrative offices.
Achintya Sinha, convener of RMUC said, “There are two level crossing located at the outskirt of the town, through which access can only be made to either side of the town. But, for people who live in seven wards of the town from ward-13 to ward-19, it often becomes tough for them to reach hospital in emergency as they needed to cross over 7km to reach it located in the Western side of the town. In many cases, expectant mother delivered baby on the way crossing the rail gate and the congested roads in the town”.
“So people in the town demanded a wide sub way through which at least small vehicles, like ambulances can ply. The railways granted an underpass assuring it to be a motorable one during 2009 when Mamata Baner5jee was railway minister. But, the railway eventually made it a pedestrian underpass which did not solve the problem”, said Sinha.
The work for the underpass began in 2011 and completed in 2015. People started using it without a formal inauguration in last year.
Chairman of Ranaghat municipality Parthasarathi Chatterjee said, “The railways authorities misled us. They assured a motorable underpass but in reality it came out to be different one. So to realize the demand, we formed RMUC with demand of a motorable underpass, particularly to for light vehicles like ambulances, cars so that people in emergency can go attend hospital without hassle”.
An officer of Sealdah division said, “The demand will be discussed with senior officials in a meeting on August 12. We will meanwhile send our experts and engineers to check the feasibility of reconstruction of the underpass as a motorable one. At the same time, alternative ways should also be examined so that the problem is solved”