Monday, 30th October 2017

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Urban mess? True, say Ranchi residents

Ranchiites second MP Poddar, point out bad drains & roads in an unplanned concrete jungle

By Our Correspondent in Ranchi
  • Published 22.07.19, 12:03 AM
  • Updated 22.07.19, 12:03 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
A herd of buffaloes walks through the ankle-deep mucky water that passes off as the Harmu river in Ranchi. Picture by Manob Chowdhury

Residents of the state capital do not seem happy with their city, in what will come as bad news for the Raghubar Das-led BJP government that is seeking a fresh mandate in the Assembly polls due later this year.

Many residents agreed with senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Mahesh Poddar who recently criticised the urban development department headed by minister C.P. Singh, who is also Ranchi MLA, that Ranchi had become an “urban mess”.

Poddar, in an open letter, had questioned the efficiency of many projects run by Singh’s department, such as the integrated sewerage and drainage scheme and Harmu river beautification, and also slammed the Ranchi Municipal Corporation’s recent decision to build a market complex at Bakri Bazaar.

Asked if he agreed with Poddar, city-based lawyer Dipesh Nirala said: “Let me start with good things first, the department did successfully implement PM housing projects and revamp ponds. But I am highly disappointed at how the Harmu river rejuvenation project turned out. It was a big-ticket, Rs 85 crore project, but the river has stayed a drain. Very recently, Jharkhand High Court Justice S.N. Pathak had called it a dead river. It’s sad but only concrete structures are raised in the name of development.”

Entrepreneur Vimal Krishnan said the basic problem lay in the urban development department having “no coordination” with allied agencies Juidco and Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC), resulting in unplanned development.

“Roads were constructed, the smart cycle project was launched, a market to shift roadside vendors built, but these are not the sole parameters of development. The RMC failed to deliver on basic facilities and services. The minister can’t run away from the responsibility by saying that the RMC is an independent unit. In the name of pond beautification, concrete structures were built that will affect the natural process of groundwater recharge. Their engineers should read ancient scriptures on how to renovate ponds,” he said.

Assistant professor of Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee University Ashok Kumar Nag, who is also associated with the JMM, said that the urban development minister needed to explain what went wrong with the city’s sewerage and drainage.

“The project’s first phase worth Rs 359 crore was launched in 2015, but not even half the work is over when the work should have been over two years ago. Ranchi faces waterlogging round the year. It is overcrowded and must be extended, but the department lacks vision,” Nag 

A road in Ratu seems to have cleaner and more water than the river.
A road in Ratu seems to have cleaner and more water than the river. Picture by Manob Chowdhury

He added that his biggest concern was that many ponds and lakes were plugged to allow constructions and many concrete structures came up too near the Subernarekha river.

“If this goes on, the Subernarekha will meet the fate of the Harmu river that shrunk because of unplanned constructions. Also, Ranchi depends on Kanke, Rukka and Dhurwa dams for its water but unfortunately their de-silting was never done,” Nag said.

Homemaker Renuka Tiwari said she was happy with streetlights, better roads in the main areas of the capital, and parks. “But roads inside the colonies are pretty bad,” she said.

She pointed out that in the past four-and-half years, “holding taxes were increased 50 times but the RMC’s quality of service did not improve”.

“You’ll see a lot of dirt, waste management system is as bad as ever,” she added.

Ranchi University professor P.K. Jha said traffic chaos would reduce once the Kantatoli and Ratu-Harmu flyovers get built.

“But Ranchi needs more flyovers at say, Sujata Chowk and Argora Chowk; otherwise in the coming decade managing traffic will be difficult,” he said.

Contacted, minister C.P. Singh said the department had started planned development of the state capital according to the 2037 Ranchi master plan.

“Whenever I find the fault in any project I personally look into the matter and correct the mistake,” the minister said, adding that the city had “good roads, including a smart road” and work on flyovers had started.