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Safety of people higher priority than plying of vehicles: CM on Talla Bridge

Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee made it clear on Tuesday that Talla Bridge, which is the prime gateway to enter Kolkata from North 24-Parganas, will remain closed for buses and heavy vehicles during the Pujas, thereby accepting the recommendations of RITES.

"We will sit for another meeting on October 12 with concerned state government officials and the expert team to decide on the fate of the bridge," Banerjee told reporters after holding a meeting at Nabanna.

According to Banerjee, RITES has informed that the condition of Talla Bridge is unfit for vehicles over 3 tonnes to ply over it.

"We have decided not to take any risk considering the safety of the people, which should be given more priority than movement of vehicles," Banerjee said.

The state government has decided to consult experts in bridge maintenance, before taking a final decision on the fate of the bridge. Civil engineering expert V K Raina is expected to reach the city on October 3 and examine the Talla Bridge.

A senior official of the state government said that they were considering to allow buses on the bridge during the Pujas, taking into account the huge rush of people and traffic. However, the expert body responsible for determining the health of the bridge (RITES) reiterated that allowing vehicles beyond 3 tonnes on the bridge will be an extremely risky affair.

Banerjee further informed reporters that the Majerhat Bridge – which is another major gateway to the city from South 24-Parganas, is expected to be thrown open by December.

"The bridge would have been completed by now but railways took a lot of time to give permission," she added. Banerjee was critical of the railways for the poor maintenance of the ROBs (Rail Over Bridges) and said that in the case of Majerhat Bridge, it was the part that was under the maintenance of railways that had caved in.

"There are some portions that are maintained by the state government and the portions over the railway tracks are looked after by the railways. In most of the cases, these ROBs are in bad condition. I think that the railways should sign an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the state government so that there is joint inspection, monitoring and maintenance regularly," Banerjee said, stressing upon coordination on the part of railways with the state government.

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