Taps dry, arteries choke in Jharia

Dhanbad's satellite township remained a picture of chaos for the second consecutive day as residents, protesting against the dearth of civic amenities like water supply, choked more than a dozen arteries on Friday morning.

As the indefinite strike launched by 1,200 Mada employees entered its fifth day, several hundred households were left without a single of drop of water. More than 2,000 angry residents descended on Katras More, Dukhharni Mandir More, RSP College, Bhagatdih, Bastacola, Parstand, Ena Islampur, Lakshminia More, Baliapur Stand, Mohri Bandh, Indra Chowk, Upper Kulhi, Chouthai Kulhi, Bhaga More and Phusbunglow to set up roadblocks between 8am and 10am.

At some places like Ena Islampur and Upper Kulhi, the sit-ins turned ugly as frenzied protesters misbehaved with commuters caught in traffic snarls. While bikes and cars were not allowed to take diversions, ambulances and school buses were, fortunately, exempted from the marathon blockade, which continued till 4pm.

Repeated appeals by inspector Srikant Upadhyay of Jharia police station failed to quell the protest. The agitators demanded immediate restoration of water supply. "We have been cheated by police. Yesterday (Thursday), we were dispersed with the promise that the crisis would end today. But, our woes have not been addressed till this point of time. We won't stop our protest," Shabir Alam, a resident of Upper Kulhi, said.

Manish Keshri, a resident of Hetlibandh, pointed out that they had not been able to take a bath for three days. "Now, our stocked up supply of drinking water has dried up too. We are risking our health by drawing water from a well that is not very clean," he said.

Councillor of Jharia ward No. 37 Anup Sao said the wrath of residents was justified.

"People are thirsty and hence, angry. They are falling back on wells and ponds, water from where is normally used to wash utensils and clothes. The district administration should find a permanent solution," he said, appealing for state intervention.

The fourth round of talks between the workforce and district administration led by Dhanbad DC Prashant Kumar began at 3pm but remained inconclusive again.

Deputy mayor Niraj Singh, who was the mediator, spoke to urban development secretary Nitin Madan Kulkarni on the merger issue. The latter said the process would take at least two-three months, but refused to give a written assurance as demanded by the Mada workers.


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