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Happy clime, horrible road

The first thing Ranchi banker Samir Singh did as dark clouds blotted out the sun on Monday afternoon was click pictures and send them to friends on WhatsApp.

“I was at work, but that couldn’t rein in my excitement when I saw the dense cover across the sky. I quickly snapped a few shots and posted them on the messenger for my friends in Bangalore. They felt so very jealous. It is still hot and sunny out there,” Singh smiled a mischievous smile.

“I am praying for more (rain). A week’s cool weather and we will all be charged up,” he said, reminding of the capital’s near-40°C sizzle last week.

Marketing executive Sandip Kumar took an unscheduled leave from work. “I woke up late and lazy. Both the pleasant weather and the KKR-Punjab playoff made me skip office,” he grinned.

According to IMD’s real-time website, the downpour on Monday had dragged down maximum temperatures in Ranchi by seven degrees to 30.2°C. The minimum reading dropped three notches to 20.5°C. Till 8.30am on Tuesday, the city recorded a generous 19.4mm rainfall, while the next three hours added another 10.2mm. Tuesday’s daytime high was an even more pleasant 25°C. Weathermen promise another day of rainy relief before the sun shows up on Thursday.

For most residents of the city, summer felt like monsoon or winter. While raincoats and umbrellas became must-carry for those stepping out of their homes on Monday and Tuesday, curling up beneath blankets was unavoidable at home.

“There was winter-like nip in the air at night and early in the morning. Let alone unpacking blankets, I had to use the geyser during shower today (Tuesday). And, the morning cuppa was like wah! Else, I had almost given up drinking tea,” said Bariatu resident and government employee S.B. Sinha.

Children, who were so long confined indoors by heat-fearing anxious parents, had a ball in the changed weather.

“The summer vacation is on, but I couldn’t allow my son to play outside during the day. It had been so hot. Today, he had fun with his friends although I ensured that he did not get wet in the rain,” said Sinha’s wife Shalini whose son is a student of Oxford School.

Now, good things often have a bad side. And downpour translates into dirty drains and waterlogging in a city infamous for its poor civic preparedness.

Though chief minister Hemant Soren is learnt to have sanctioned Rs 100 crore for road revamp across Jharkhand, the cause is lost on Ranchi’s administrative lethargy. Result: the wide artery from Shahid Chowk to Kutchery has been squeezed into a single lane owing to flooding triggered by bad drainage.

“This morning (Tuesday), a girl fell and drenched herself in the dirty water while trying to escape the spray caused by a speeding vehicle,” a vendor recalled the plight of the commuter.

Telling images of apathy dotted Karamtoli and Vidyapati Nagar where broken water pipes and unfilled pits compounded commuter woes.

“The respite from scorching heat is welcome. But, potholes and puddles are ugly. Stretches of Harmu Road already look threatening,” said Nishikant Jha, a resident.

RMC deputy mayor Sanjeev Vijayvargiya himself sounded frustrated. “Humlogon ke haath mein balla hai par ball nahi aa raha. (We have the willow, but no deliveries to hit),” he said. He added that a month ago, the RMC board cleared Rs 68 lakh for building culverts and cleaning drains to prevent waterlogging. “But, implementing agencies do everything except work.”

Chief executive officer of RMC Manoj Kumar didn’t respond to calls.