Mounds of sand encroach upon the roadside along Ranchi-Khunti highway near Birsa Chowk on Sunday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Ranchi Municipal Corporation’s (RMC) laxity in enforcing restrictions on stacking of building materials on and along roads has become a serious threat for both pedestrians and bikers manoeuvring their way through traffic snarls on the capital roads.
The civic body had constituted a squad of 12 headed by RMC’s health officer Ajay Manjhi and started the Halla Bol programme in February last year to seize road-hog construction materials.
Equipped with tractors, the team was asked to pay regular visits to various neighbourhoods under the RMC’s jurisdiction and keep a check on such encroachment.
The corporation did not only confiscate illegally kept construction materials, individuals were also made to cough up fines of Rs 2,000 each.
Besides, the civic body had also launched a toll-free number — 0651-2100163 — for individuals to pass on information or lodge complaints against construction materials being dumped on the roadside.
But, neither these men are seen anywhere now, nor does the toll-free number work.
Initially, the drive had helped clear congestion and filled RMC coffers.
Sources in the civic body said from February to April 2013, the programme had fetched around Rs 2 lakh. It gained renewed momentum in November, but only for a brief span of time.
RMC deputy mayor Sanjeev Vijayvargiya conceded the problem, but offered a litany of excuses for not being able to rein in violators.
“That set-up is not working right now because of manpower crunch. The crisis became acute after the RMC scrapped its contract with cleaning agency A2Z,” he said.
But, if Vijayvargiya admitted the problem, RMC CEO Manoj Kumar denied that the team was dormant. “Whenever we get any complaint, our team swings into action. Fines are imposed on individuals. But, right now I cannot give details,” said Kumar.
Notably, during the last RMC board meeting held in the first week of March, many ward councillors had voiced their opinion against the lackadaisical attitude of the civic body in sustaining drives.
Currently, the RMC has turned a blind eye to violations and heaps of sand, stone chips, rods and other construction materials inhabit roadsides for days, shrinking space for vehicles. Gusts of wind spreads out the sand onto roads and make two-wheelers skid.
“The road in our locality is narrow and remains busy all day long. To add to our woes, a local builder recently dumped mounds of sand and stone chips on the roadside, occupying half of the road. For a week passers-by have been facing problems,” said Mohammed Ashfaq, a resident of Karbala, one of the worst affected places in the capital.
The others include Ratu Road and Hatma bustee.