|Gangadhar whose cows got electrocuted last month and (above) a vendor risks his life as he walks under live wires in Edalhatu, Ranchi, on Thursday. Pictures by Hardeep Singh
Gangadhar, a septuagenarian resident of Edalhatu’s Ward No. 2 in Ranchi, lost two cows last month as they were electrocuted within seconds as they brushed against live electric wires outside his Road No. 2 Shivaji Path home.
The hapless man said he then went around tugging all unattended wires out of harm’s way with a bamboo stick.
Fellow resident Anil Ram claimed the same month a labourer from a local chow mein factory at the far end of the road died of electric shock. Again, live hanging wires were the culprit.
In Edalhatu, a neglected backyard of posh Morabadi, power stays for barely four hours or so a day, but kills whenever it can. And so, when power minister Rajendra Prasad Singh said on Wednesday that the state enjoyed “almost zero power cuts” and “23 hours of electricity supply”, the statements only rubbed salt into the wounds of thousands of Edalhatu residents.
“Office se nikalke jameen pe dekhte to pata chal jayega. (He will know the truth if he steps outside his office into the real world),” Gangadhar said. “Ask anyone here to get a clear picture of our civic woes, be it power, water or roads. And yes, it worsens during monsoon.”
The sight of wires snaking through decayed bamboo poles and occasionally resting on rusted iron rods is common. There are some cement poles installed by the state electricity department but they are too few in number to cater to the whole area.
“You see for yourself,” said B.K. Dwivedi, a general store owner, pointing up at the thickets of bamboo sticks and wires, and down at the road riddled with craters. “We live in daily risk of our lives. Monsoon will just worsen it. Neither ward councillor, nor MP and MLA is bothered,” he said.
Last November, The Telegraph published a report, Want to experience disaster tourism? Visit Edalhatu, where it highlighted that the chronically ailing area was just 3km from chief minister Hemant Soren’s Kanke residence.
On why nothing has changed in seven months, ward councillor Surendra Nayak blamed power mandarins and Ranchi district administration.
“Local people think I don’t do anything. I’ve been writing to electricity department for proper power connection but in vain. Haphazard development also compounds civic misery,” he said.
Ruing funds crunch, he added: “I get only Rs 10 lakh annually for local area development. Funds release isn’t regular. I know at least half a dozen roads are needed, but how can I manage roads, drains, power in this situation?”
Nayak said he had written to former Rajya Sabha MP K.D. Singh and MP Parimal Nathwani in the past but to no avail. “Nathwaniji had said if he is re-elected, he would do something for the area. A week ago, I approached his office. Let’s see,” he said.
Jharkhand Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd (JUVNL) executive engineer (Ranchi division) Anil Kumar didn’t receive calls.
One of the junior engineers who did not want to be named, said most cement poles had been set up in the past six months. “Some 70 cement poles sanctioned by the department have been set up recently,” he said.
But what about Gangadhar’s Road No. 2 or, as the old man says, Road No. 5 and many others? “I’ve to check files,” said the junior engineer. Edalhatu, keep waiting.