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DIY cry in slum clean act

When there is no one to help you, do it yourself.

Residents of various urban slums in Ranchi have adopted this mantra to keep their stinking backyards clean in the run-up to Id, thus giving a fitting reply to the civic authorities that have failed to get cracking and undertake cleanliness drives despite getting a new mayor.

Led by their respective ward councillors, who are equally disillusioned with the way Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) is functioning, the denizens of Azad Basti, Loharkotcha, Pathalkudwa and Dangratoli (ward No. 18), Kadru (ward No. 28) and Bargain (ward No. 4) have started removing unattended garbage and clearing clogged drains on their own.

In some wards, self-help groups (SHGs) have been formed to spread awareness about the need to keep one’s surroundings clean while labourers have been hired to dredge drains.

The DIY (do it yourself) brigade will be at work till Friday.

Hum log ka Id karib hain, par dekhiye yahan kya haal hain. Koi safai karamchari atta nahin hain. Kal sham se humlog safai shuru kiye hain (Our festival of Id is approaching but see the condition of our locality. No cleaner comes here. We have started a cleaning drive on our own from yesterday (Wednesday)),” complained Md Islam, a resident of Pathalkudwa.

A second-year student of Ranchi College, Mehboob Ahmed, supported Islam.

“Yes, we have started cleaning our neighbourhood on our own after seeing that the RMC is not taking any initiative. We had pinned a lot of hope on new mayor Asha Lakra, but she also failed to ensure that all localities, especially the ones dominated by Muslims, are cleaned up thoroughly before Id. She has no concern for common public. We want to show the corporation officials that we are not dependent on them any longer and can look after ourselves,” he added.

Ashok Baraik, councillor of ward No. 28 who is supporting the residents, said: “We had organised a meeting, where the slum dwellers were urged to join heads for taking up cleaning activities so that our friends from the minority community can celebrate Id in a clean environment.”

Husna Ara, ward councillor of No. 4, was seen directing daily wage labourers to clean clogged drains.

“We have formed an SHG comprising 10 women, who are visiting each and every household and urging the occupants to stop littering their neighbourhoods.”

Sounding critical of the civic bosses, she went on to add: “Hum log ka koi power nahi hain, bas naam ke liye hum log yahan par hain. Lekin hum log kab tak chup baithe? (We don’t have any power and are here (in the civic body) just for the sake of it. But how long do we remain quiet?),” she asked.

Deputy mayor Sanjeev Vijayvargia, however, said that they had already directed safai karamcharis (cleaners) to spruce up the city before Id.

When contacted, mayor Asha Lakra admitted that the 1,700-odd cleaners that the civic body had at its disposal were not enough for the 55 wards of Ranchi.

“We need more manpower to keep the entire city spic and span. The residents’ initiative is praiseworthy,” she added.