The Telegraph
Saturday , March 1 , 2014
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Auto-cracy narrows arteries

Asked what little prayer she muttered every morning before stepping out of home, St Xavier’s College student Avni Mishra said: “O God, let there be no traffic snarls today”.

And Avni is not alone in her faith. Almost every commuter of HB Road and Purulia Road in Ranchi seek divine intervention against perennial congestion on these two capital arteries.

Like clockwork, from 9am to 8pm, bottlenecks bar free flow of vehicles on these vital links to Kokar and Kantatoli, respectively, courtesy unauthorised parking of auto-rickshaws on both flanks.

XISS faculty member Prakash Chandra Das rued Purulia Road’s tiers of obstacles. “First, there are makeshift shops; second, there are rogue autos; and on top of that, there are auto drivers who stand on the middle of the road to catch prospective passengers. Drive space is squeezed by less than half.”

Das, who comes from Dangratoli Chowk to XISS every day, added: “Commuter inconvenience has increased manifold after autos were diverted via Mission Chowk.”

Four months ago, the three-wheelers coming from Kantatoli to Kutchery used to turn at Dangratoli Chowk for Lalpur. Currently, they come to Mission Chowk and then take East Jail Road to reach Circular Road.

“There have been days when it took an hour to reach XISS from Dangratoli Chowk, a distance of a kilometre that should not take more than six-seven minutes on a two-wheeler. Students often get late for class,” said DAS.

Udayan Sharma, district programme coordinator of Jharkhand Rural Health Mission, said the administration should seriously think about relocating auto-rickshaws. “Patients, including women in labour, get caught in the snarls. Such indiscipline on roads cannot be allowed.”

Like Purulia Road, HB Road’s biggest bane too is the rogue three-wheelers. A newly built temple that has spawned puja paraphernalia shops has compounded woes.

Rohit Kumar, who owns an optical shop, said no one could drive away the auto-walas when traffic police turned a blind eye. Prateek Kumar, a bank employee, added: “Illegal parking needs to be stopped now.”

Traffic SP Rajiv Ranjan said his department was co-ordinating with the RMC on relocating auto-rickshaws.

“We also need manpower (read constables) to enforce rules. It will take about a fortnight to streamline things,” he added.