Raised slabs on a Jugsalai road put both pedestrians and vehicles at risk. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Drinking water and sanitation department (DW&SD) seems to be the bosom buddy of a Ranchi contractor, clearing the latter’s Rs 4.6 crore bill in August towards laying pipes in an urban water scheme in Jamshedpur, despite incompetent and incomplete work that has proved to be a civic threat.
Of the Rs 16.11 crore Jugsalai urban water scheme for nearly one lakh people, Ranchi-based Rockbell India Limited ran up a Rs 4.6 crore bill, which the DW&SD promptly paid up, overlooking the fact that the firm flouted tender specifications and left seven important roads looking like war zones.
Both the problems are inter-linked. A clause in the tender specified that check valves should have been laid 6ft below ground level. But Rockbell India put them barely one foot below, with the result that slabs covering it are higher than the roads, making them literal stumbling blocks for traffic, especially after sunset.
The raised slabs are also cracking up under the wheels of heavy vehicles.
This apart, Rockbell India was also supposed to take care of the roads once pipes were laid. But, in most places, trenches have shoddily been filled up with sand, leaving the edges of the road uneven and unsafe for two-wheelers.
Satyanarayan Agarwal, a social worker who has filed a complaint at state Lokayukta against DW&SD for paying the contractor despite the latter not fulfilling contract terms, said the problems rising from the ravaged roads were huge.
“We get complaints from numerous people who have got injured on almost a daily basis especially after dark. If authorities don’t take steps to repair the roads before Durga Puja, one can’t rule out a major mishap any moment,” he warned.
Subdivisional officer (DW&SD) Jugsalai Vijay Kumar Sinha claimed there was nothing unusual about the payment to Rockbell India. But he did admit the problems caused to commuters due to raised slabs covering check valves and broken roadside edges.
“Look, the firm was paid once it completed laying pipes in around 31km of sanctioned area in August. But it is our fault that we overlooked road repairs and raised slabs before paying the money. The contractor has been showcaused and asked to repair roads and lay afresh the check valves before Durga Puja,” said the official.
He, however, was forced to admit that it was virtually impossible to do both jobs on seven roads in such a short time.
The Jugsalai urban water scheme aims at supplying piped drinking water to nearly one lakh people of the area known as the steel city’s trading and wholesaling hub. The project began in 2007 with water being drawn from Kharkai and processed at a treatment plant near Shiv Ghat. It has five water towers with a combined supply capacity of 7,00,000 gallons a day.
Can the roads be made safer before Durga Puja?