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Governor diktat to light bonfires

Governor Syed Ahmed summoned Ranchi deputy commissioner Vinay Kumar Choubey and Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) chief executive officer Dipankar Panda on Thursday and asked them to immediately arrange bonfires (alav) in rural as well as city areas in view of the bone-chilling cold.

The governor also wanted to know how many blankets had been distributed to the poor even as the capital continued to be numb at 6.4°C for the second consecutive day. Choubey informed the governor that about 7,000 blankets had already been distributed amongst the poor.

Administration sources, however, said that more would be distributed if the need arose. “We distributed blankets to a majority of road dwellers and other underprivileged people. However, an additional 1,500-2,000 will be handed over in a day or two,” said an official.

Later speaking to The Telegraph, RMC CEO Panda said bonfires were being lit up at 31 spots in the city. Some additional facilities have been made from Thursday. “Besides the main city, bonfires are being arranged at all heavily populated panchayat areas such as Kanke (which froze at zero degree Celsius on Thursday) Ormanjhi, Namkum and alike,” he said.

The capital has around 13 raen baseras or night shelters that have been outsourced to Sulabh International. Panda said pillows and blankets had already been distributed at the shelters.

“Based on reports that raen baseras don’t have proper facilities, we conducted surprise visits at some of the shelters and found that pillows and blankets were missing. However, not too many people turn up at the night centres for reasons best known to them. For those inhabiting at the raen baseras, we have directed Sulabh to start bonfires from today (Thursday) besides deciding to provide additional funds if needed,” said Panda, adding that both RMC and administration were doing their best to shield the poor from the chill.

In another development, Ranchi Abhivavak Manch approached deputy commissioner with a plea to shut all government and private schools because of the extreme cold.

Choubey said he had directed district education officer (DEO) to take necessary action. “I have asked the DEO to identify such schools that are open and ask them to suspend classes with immediate effect,” he added.