A 3km stretch of NH-33 near Kokar, which had developed craters, has been repaired after a prod from Raj Bhavan. Picture by Prashant Mitra
How do you say bye-bye bad roads?
Meet road construction officials with a request? No. Launch a unique campaign? No. Go to Raj Bhavan and get heard? Yes.
Citizens of Ranchi, who failed to reap repair of a battered 50-metre stretch of NH-33 in Kokar even after sowing their gripe in a pothole last month, finally, knocked on the governor’s door and the latter willingly put an end to their commuting miseries on Sunday.
Frustrated with empty promises of road revamp, 150-odd residents had rustled up funds on February 21, bought a tractor-load of soil and sowed gram plants in water-filled craters on NH-33. They had reasoned that the ditches were an open invitation to accidents and the road construction department had not touched the plagued highway section in several months after some patchwork last monsoon.
But, this unique protest failed to jolt the authorities out of their slumber.
“So, we united again and this time, went straight to Raj Bhavan, which is the power centre in a state under President’s Rule. The governor heard us out and kept his promise. The road has been repaired,” said Sanjeev Vijayvargiya, a local resident and a ward commissioner of Ranchi Municipal Corporation.
A prod from Raj Bhavan not only spurred hitherto unwilling officials to repair the mishap-prone zone, but also the entire stretch of the highway from Booty More to Kokar Chowk, a distance of about 3km. And the job was completed in 24 hours flat.
The road, which earlier belonged to the state, is currently under the maintenance of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). The latter carried out the repair work. Incidentally, while the 50-metre stretch near Kokar Chowk had developed deep ditches, the 3km road from Booty More to Kokar Chowk too had ugly warts.
“We are pleasantly surprised. We had been demanding repair of a small stretch of NH-33 and officials did not care. But, after we met the governor, the entire stretch was repaired,” said Vijayvargiya.
The last time the NH-33 near Kokar was repaired was after monsoon 2012. By December, the potholes were back, resulting in inconvenience for commuters.
“Since the road belongs to the NHAI, its upkeep is the NHAI’s job. From our side, we had informed the high authorities about the poor condition of the road,” an engineer of the road construction department played defensive on the delay in repair.
Officials of NHAI, which has its headquarters in Delhi, could not be contacted.