|A family is caught in the four-hour jam session on Kanke Road, Ranchi, on Monday morning as tribal protests (above, left and right) choke the artery. More than hundred residents of Misirgonda neighbourhood blocked the Ranchi-Patratu road in front of the CMPDI headquarters, staking claim to 13 cottahs of land, which apparently belong to one Srikant Mishra. While the tribals say they have been using the venue for rituals for decades, Mishra has alleged that land sharks are using these people as pawns to usurp his property. The agitation quelled after police promised a probe to reconfirm ownership. (Hardeep Singh)
What happens when demonstrators block a stretch of an arterial road without a bypass? Life comes to a grinding halt.
That is precisely what happened in Ranchi on Monday. A group of armed tribals from Misirgonda, crying encroachment of a 13-cottah disputed venue for rituals, choked less than half a kilometre of Kanke Road near old Gonda thana and CMPDI from 9am. Traffic jam was the immediate effect. But, there was no immediacy of means to end the congestion that dragged on for the first half of the day.
Employees of CCL, who stay in Gandhi Nagar Colony, failed to reach office on time because most were compelled to walk nearly 4km to reach their workplace near Raj Bhavan. Similarly, doctors posted at CCL-run Gandhi Nagar Hospital and living in Jawahar Nagar Colony, near the official residence of the chief justice, were late for duty.
All passenger buses coming from Pithoria and Patratu had to halt in a serpentine queue near Rock Garden and wait for the blockade to be lifted. School buses, many of them carrying kindergarten students, were caught in the snarl too.
Others from the city, who wanted to travel to DAV-Gandhinagar, Indian Institute of Coal Management (IICM), Rinpas, CIP and BAU, too had their patience wearing thin for hours. Some, who had urgent work in store, travelled till Boreya and turned from Morabadi to enter the city, taking a detour of 10km.
In short, for capital residents, the first working day of the week was utter chaos. And that just for the want of a tertiary road.
Despite being the address of some of Jharkhand’s most important institutions and offices, besides the residences of VIPs like the chief minister and chief justice, Kanke Road has no bypass or peripheral road to connect it to the rest of the city when the stretch near CMPDI is blocked.
As a result traffic snarls are almost routine and seem to last for eternity. On Monday, the congestion technically took some four hours to ease around 1pm, but the better half of a day was wasted for many. “Though it was a holiday (for Ganesh Puja), I had some work at RIMS. The blockade scuttled my plans,” said Dr Amool Ranjan, the director of Rinpas.
A doctor of Gandhi Nagar Hospital, who was seen parking her car near a retail mart and joining the forced walkathon on Monday, said that a single flaw in urban planning was taking a heavy toll on many pressing needs. “I have important cases. Patients have been given prior appointments. How can I disappoint them for a blockade? So, I decided to walk,” she said, requesting anonymity.
CCL employee A. Kumar, who reached office at 11.30am instead of 10am, pointed out that the problem wasn’t new.
“While minor snarls are routine, such harrowing wait is inevitable once in every three months. In June, there was some puja at the temple near the Kanke Road petrol station. And, the stretch remained blocked for hours. All we need and are asking for is a parallel road,” he summed it up.