The torandwar and pandal coming up at Malha Toli in Ranchi on Monday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Two bikers collided head-on near Kishoreganj Chowk, Ranchi, on Monday morning. Fortunately, none was injured, but the crash triggered an ugly verbal duel followed by fisticuffs. A traffic constable stood a mute witness at a distance, unable to decide who was at fault.
Actually, neither of the two was. The culprit was a torandwar (a giant decorative gate) erected for Navratri. The bamboo structure had blocked view of both bikers, leading to the mishap.
And, this is not a stray incident. Agle ek mahine tak to yeh roj ka kissa hoga. (Accidents like this will be routine for a month), traffic constable R. Kisku said.
Crashes and clashes are collateral damage during the festival onslaught every year, with organisers erecting gates and squeezing arterial roads across Ranchi.
Durga Puja pandals are not as much as a problem as are the torandwars. The colossal gates straddle the breadth of roads, narrowing the passage for vehicular movement.
The torandwars coming up near the entry road of RIMS are giving the toughest time to traffic police, commuters and vehicles bound for Ramgarh and Ormanjhi because ongoing drain repair has further narrowed free passage.
There are two brief approach roads to the state-run hospital. The main one is meant for doctors and office staff and the other for patients and their attendants. The second have been partially blocked by a torandwar too.
My father is admitted to RIMS. I attend to him at night and go home in the morning. The auto strike has been a problem. Now, the fancy gate has compounded my woes. No vehicle stops here these days. Attendants like me are forced to walk around half a kilometre to access public transport, said Ram Charan Singh.
Chaos is also common at MG Road, where three pandals near Sarjana Chowk, Church Road and Malha Toli are encroaching upon road space.
Naresh Kumar, who runs a watch shop near Church Road and is a resident of Malha Toli, said it was taking him 15 minutes to reach work instead of the earlier five minutes.
A Puja is being organised at the entrance of Malha Toli. Workers have started erecting the pandal and torandwars. Bamboo poles and ropes are littered everywhere. Riding a two-wheeler is a nightmare now, he said.
Traffic SP Rajiv Ranjan washed his hand of the issue, citing religious sentiments.
It is festive season. We will have to respect religious sentiments. For a month, commuting in areas where pandals have come up will be difficult. I request commuters to abide by traffic rules to help themselves, he said.