The Telegraph
Monday , October 15 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Babus wield brooms, redeem office image

They exchanged pen and gun for pushcarts, bevy of files and badges for brooms and duty rosters for dustpans.

Meet Ranchi’s elite army of cleaners who, led by deputy commissioner Vinay Kumar Choubey and SSP Saket Kumar Singh, turned the dirty five-storey Ranchi district collectorate at Kutchery Chowk from a towering nightmare to an impressive workplace on Sunday.

The marathon drive began at 9 o’clock sharp. Sporting white tees, the diligent office-keepers — including two dozen collectorate employees and 50 security guards, besides top bureaucrats and policemen — first swept clean each of the 100-odd chambers at the collectorate. They scrubbed clean betel-stained floors, walls and staircases, cleared drains choking on polythene and wiped dusty windowpanes.

Garbage and litter, including redundant files and papers, were also ferried to an open space with the help of pushcarts, and later incinerated. Deputy commissioner Choubey and SSP Singh were seen piloting two such carts. In tow were SP (rural) Aseem Vikrant Minz, SP (city) Vipul Shukla, SDO Amit Kumar, deputy collector (nazarat) Arvind Kumar Mishra and district public relations officer Mukul Lakra.

“It took us nearly four hours to clean up the entire building and campus. We received ample help from collectorate employees and guards,” said PRO Lakra.

Built in 2009 exclusively for disaster mitigation, Ranchi’s biggest public office has always had an impressive façade to camouflage its stench and squalor within. It hosts offices of trouble-busters like the deputy commissioner, deputy collectors, SDO, SSP and SP, besides record rooms, foreign cell and Pragya Kendra among others.

But, the burden of cleanliness of this huge building — which supports a 700-odd workforce and sees some 2,000 daily visitors — had always rested on the weak shoulders of two regular sweepers and two daily wage ones.

Realising the problem, former deputy commissioner K.K. Soan had urged the government to release special funds for upkeep of the collectorate. He had suggested that a private agency — in all likelihood A2Z Waste Management Private Limited — be hired for Rs 1.30 lakh a month. An approval from the government never came.

“When the state was not willing to provide funds to engage A2Z, we had urged that the upkeep job be handed over to the public works department. We are yet to receive a response,” said deputy collector Mishra, who is in charge of maintenance of the collectorate building.

A permanent solution still wanting, the bureaucrats have themselves decided to shoulder some responsibilities.

“We will carry out cleanliness drives like today’s at regular intervals. Each officer will also ensure that his chamber remains spic and span at the end of each day. We also urge visitors to show some civic sense and co-operate with us in keeping the building clean,” Choubey said.

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