An open and dirty drain in Morabadi, Ranchi, on Monday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Home is where the heart is. Ranchi mayor Asha Lakra, on Day Two of her four-day clean capital drive, may perhaps tweak the old adage a bit and say home is where the broom is.
Lakra (35), who lives in Sindwar Toli under Ranchi Municipal Corporation’s ward No. 3, could well spare a civic thought for her own residential area, where clogged drains and potholed roads still rule the roost.
On Monday, as the mayor walked out of her house to oversee the ongoing cleanliness drive on Circular Road, The Telegraph team reached her backyard to listen to people’s woes.
Sindwar Toli is among many tolas and tolis bunched together to form a part of ward No. 3, while other major localities — some posh and the others not so much — include Chiroundi, Sarai Tand, parts of Edalhatu, Gonda and Morabadi. Ward landmarks include Ranchi College, Ranchi University PG departments, Deen Dayal Park, Morabadi grounds, Birsa Football Stadium, Golden Tulip Hotel, hockey astroturf, Tribal Research Institute and Museum and Regional Science Centre.
VIP residents include JMM boss Shibu Soren, Ranchi DC Vinay Kumar Choubey, SSP Prabhat Kumar and RMC CEO Manoj Kumar.
Going by the VIP profile, ward No. 3 appears to be civic amenity’s favourite godchild. But not by a long shot.
From New Morabadi area onwards, the ward looks like a messy suburb, sometimes even a village without basic facilities.
Lakra’s rented house in Sindwar Toli doesn’t have piped water. For household chores, well water is pumped into an overhead tank. Though it has power supply, there is no concrete pole. Wires mounted on bamboo poles supply power.
Flustered by media attention, the mayor’s landlady spoke on the condition of anonymity on her expectations from her VIP tenant.
“She has become mayor, so we expect this area will improve. But please don’t think I am complaining,” she said.
Ward councillor Basanti Lakra, also Sindwar Toli resident, was more forthcoming,
Unhesitatingly, she said: “Pani, bijli, sadak, safai, sabhi dikkat hai. Alag se kya kya bolein. Kuchh hissa to theek hai par New Morabadi side se problem zyada hee hai. (Shortage of water and power supply, bad roads and poor civic cleanliness, everything’s here. Some areas are okay but problems increase from New Morabadi onwards).”
Listing her main gripes, she said: “Supply water (piped water supply) is not available. Some hand pumps are defunct as groundwater level has sunk below 1,000ft. I have water tanks provided by the RMC placed on my lawn. The RMC tanker fills it here and people come and collect water.”
The locality has an underground pipe network, there is a “snag somewhere”, she said.
“Some people in Edalhatu and New Morabadi get supply water. Most don’t. I have asked RMC officials to check. But, when they don’t listen to me, will they listen to residents?” she wondered.
Half a kilometer away from the mayor’s rented home, 62-year old Faguni Devi, when asked when the nearest drain was cleaned last, gave The Telegraph correspondent a piece of her mind. “Puchh rahe hain, kuchh karwaenge bhi. Kabhi to saaf hobe nai karta hai (Will you just ask or get something done? It is never cleaned),” she said.
Sapna Devi, Rambha Devi and Kavita Devi, all New Morabadi residents, when asked if they were aware of the mayor’s clean city drive, chorused: “We will appreciate if she gets her neighbourhood drains cleaned and get us water connection.”
Contacted, Lakra said she was aware of the problems near her home. “I stay there and know the problems, but these are universal in Ranchi. I will prioritise issues with local residents and take them up one by one.”