A man on a cycle negotiates the muck behind the state housing board office at Harmu in Ranchi on Monday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
It is said that darkness reigns at the foot of the lighthouse. The popular Japanese proverb could not have been more true for a 300-feet stretch in Harmu, Ranchi.
Located behind the managing director’s office of Jharkhand State Housing Board (JSHB) and the residence of state home secretary N.N. Pandey, this road has been lying in a dilapidated state as long as residents can remember.
The top layer has eroded, leaving behind a thick bed of mud with puddles and slush. Ironically, neither the housing board nor the home secretary has ever bothered to intervene, preferring to turn a blind eye to the problems being faced by people.
The road connects Bhatta Mohalla, which is located near Harmu Housing Colony, to Rajkiya Madhya Vidyalaya, the only government school in the ward.
Used by over 2,000 people, it is in ward No. 37 of Ranchi Municipal Corporation, which is responsible for ensuring light and cleanliness at the JSHB colony in Harmu.
“One can no longer call it a road. It’s a mud track. Only those who are not afraid of breaking their bones or getting their clothes dirty should use it,” said a woman who had to take the road to reach the polling booth at Rajkiya Madhya Vidyalaya to vote during the mayoral election on Monday.
The Bhatta Mohalla resident was supported by six other women accompanying her.
Jaimangla Jha, who stays in the housing board’s residential quarters beside the muddy stretch with her grandson and daughter-in-law, said they were living in unhygienic conditions.
“The road always remains waterlogged. Whenever any big vehicle passes, dirty water enters our compound and at times, inside our flat. School buses refuse to enter the road during monsoon, leaving children in the lurch. Then, of course there is the mosquito menace, thanks to waterlogging,” she said.
But quite surprisingly, JSHB managing director Uma Shashi Chatterjee said that she did not know about the pathetic condition of the road that’s just behind her office.
“Abhi hum sadak dekhe nahin hain… Is liye is bar main kuch bhi nahi kahe sakte (I have not seen the road yet and hence, can’t say anything on the matter),” she said when contacted.
But councillor of ward No. 37 Arun Kumar Jha, who stays barely 150m from the road, admitted to the mess.
“The grievances of local people are genuine. But I cannot do much as the road construction work has been assigned to one Shailendra Singh. In fact, money has been allotted from the MP fund,” he added.
Contractor Singh promised to start work soon.
“The work of renovating the road was given to me when Subodh Kant Sahay was the (Ranchi) MP. Despite my best efforts, I could not start work due to procedural delays and the model code of conduct for the Lok Sabha elections. But now, I am hopeful of beginning work from June 27 after the mayoral poll result is out. An amount of Rs 2.5 lakh has been sanctioned for the work,” he said.