Irate residents of Burmamines Harijan Basti (right) protest against the accident on the crater-riddled road on Tuesday. Pictures by Bhola Prasad
A short, but significant, stretch of road in the heart of Jamshedpur was blocked for nearly eight hours since afternoon on Tuesday after two students sustained injuries when their school van hit a giant crater.
Irate local residents lifted the blockade on 1,500-metre-long Lal Baba Foundry Road in Golmuri around 8.15pm after police promised to have the perilous gaps plugged in three days.
Tension started brewing around 12.30pm when two students — both aged seven — of East Plant Government High School suffered cuts and bruises on their hands and legs when their van overturned in an enormous puddle.
The children were taken to a nearby clinic and released after first aid.
The accident angered residents of Burmamines Harijan Basti, an urban slum having more than 600 holdings and a population of nearly 10,000. For, they had long been demanding repair of the road that has been rendered dangerous by heavy vehicles ferrying consignments to factory units.
A 60-strong mob descended on Lal Baba road and began demonstrations. The residents refused to budge even when Golmuri police intervened around 2.30pm.
“We have been asking private firms whose vehicles use this road and the police to fix the craters on the road. But, no one has ever listened to our grievances. Minor mishaps, like the one today, are common. We dread a major accident someday,” said Mahesh Mukhi, a resident.
According to the protesters, every day, around 100 heavy vehicles use the road, which is dotted by 90 warehouses on both sides, but maintenance has been zero.
“The Jamshedpur Notified Area Committee (JNAC) had constructed the road six years ago. Lack of maintenance and frequency of heavy vehicles has in these yawning craters. Life and limb is at risk,” Mukhi said, adding that streetlights were also missing along the stretch.
Golmuri OC Nehaluddin Khan conceded that the condition of Lal Baba Foundry Road was going from bad to worse. He told the agitators that efforts were on to convince warehouse owners to pitch in for repairs.
Residents, who had decided on an “indefinite roadblock”, lifted the same after being promised relief in 72 hours.