A divider on Harmu Bypass in Ranchi, which is closed minutes before a minister’s convoy passes the area, on Wednesday. (Hardeep Singh)
The state capital is perhaps the only place in the country where commoners flout traffic rules at ease and ministers obey them diligently, courtesy Ranchi traffic police. If it sounds unbelievable, try travelling through Harmu Bypass, also known as Birsa Munda Rajmarg.
Commuting is a pleasure here for aam aadmi as they can take U-turn from almost anywhere. For, plenty of cut points are available.
Cut points are the gaps between the road dividers through which vehicles can change lanes.
The 35-odd traffic policemen manning the stretch between Sahajanand Chowk near Harmu to Ratu Road Chowk on the bypass close these illegal cuts with barricades and bamboos only when VVIPs like chief minister Hemant Soren, his Cabinet ministers and other bureaucrats are headed towards Project Building in Dhurwa.
Once the cavalcades are gone, the police remove all the bamboos and re-open the illegal cuts to allow easy U-turns, thereby increasing chances of fatal mishaps.
On Wednesday, when a traffic constable deputed near Kishoreganj Chowk received the information that the chief minister’s convoy would pass, he lifted a bamboo kept near Shani Maharaj temple and closed the cut.
Similarly, another traffic constable picked up two more bamboos from a petrol pump adjacent to the temple and completed the missing link in the road divider.
“Idhar khula rahega to traffic manage karna mushkil hoga na. Mantri ji ke log paar hote samay kidhar kidhar dhyan denge,koi durghatna nahi ghate isiliye band kar dete hain. (If we keep the cuts open, it will be difficult to manage traffic. When ministers cross, how will we keep vigil in all directions. Hence, to avoid accidents, we close the cuts),” said the constable, not willing to be named.
So why not permanently close unnecessary divider cuts and build a median?
Traffic SP Rajiv Ranjan said, “I am personally against the illegal cuts. But if we close them down, local residents will oppose it.”
Ranjan, however, claimed it was not true that traffic police were concerned about safety of commuters only when ministers pass through the bypass. “They do keep eye on traffic movement even when the cuts are open,” Ranjan added.