House in session, order on streets. Yes Ranchi, we are talking of your bridge to the future.
The district administration has, finally, woken from its deep slumber — precisely after a decade of commuter inconvenience and six months after a Jharkhand High Court directive — to scout for a stopgap arrangement and grant more than 100,000 residents of HEC Township easy access to Birsa Chowk when the state’s law-makers meet.
Deputy commissioner Vinay Kumar Choubey has written to the divisional railway manager of South Eastern Railway, requesting a footbridge near Birsa Chowk as an alternative route of commuting so that people face less trouble when the HEC gate, 100 metres from the state Assembly, is closed for House proceedings.
Though Choubey rushed a letter to the SER authorities on September 9 — within 72 hours of The Telegraph once again highlighting the sorry plight of commuters — a copy of the request was made available by the district public relations department only on Tuesday evening.
“When the House is in session, agitation programmes are organised by different political parties, trade unions and other organisations. Thus, the district administration closes the gate connecting HEC Township with Birsa Chowk to maintain law and order. Due to this, commuters face a lot of problem... Many a time, people risk their lives by crossing railway tracks to reach their destinations... It is requested that a footbridge be constructed for the convenience of the common people,” the deputy commissioner’s letter reads.
This action, however, was long overdue.
On March 15, the high court had asked the government to ease commuter trouble by finding more viable alternatives. It was hearing a PIL filed by a voluntary organisation, Centre for Media and Development, which demanded that the HEC gate be kept open for the convenience of thousands of commuters.
The court had asked the chief secretary to look into the matter and, “if the grievance is genuine”, make adequate arrangements so that people did not suffer. “It should be in the interest of the state too,” it had said.
But, the Ranchi administration did precious little in the past six months, leaving thoroughfares plagued with bottlenecks in peak hours and forcing commuters to risk their lives and limbs by crossing railway tracks.
The capital’s guardians had so far reasoned that there are alternative routes, which commuters can take, ignoring the fact that these bypasses took more time, which people bound for school, college or office could not afford.
One of the routes is via Shyamali Colony and AG More and the other route is by Project Building and Chandni Chowk. While the first is inconvenient because it is overcrowded during peak hours, the second is an 8km detour.
The district administration’s recent and proactive move has earned a solid thumbs up from from a mother.
“A footbridge will be of immense help. One can cross the railway line without fear and catch an auto for different destinations,” said Jayita Bagchi, a resident of Alkapuri who finds it difficult to take her son to Loyola School in Hinoo every time the Assembly is in session.