Pre-monsoon downpour exposes Ayodhya’s makeover

Six engineers of PWD and Jal Nigam were suspended for negligence and dereliction of duty.
The waterlogged Ram path.
The waterlogged Ram path.(Special Arrangement)

LUCKNOW: Three days after parts of the newly-constructed 13-km long Ram Path, the main arterial road leading to the upcoming Ram temple in Ayodhya caved in at around half a dozen spots after the first few spells of pre-monsoon rain.

The Uttar Pradesh government suspended six engineers, three each from PWD and Jal Nigam, for negligence and dereliction of duty.

As per the government spokesperson, the suspension order of the senior officials was released late on Friday evening after CM Yogi Adityanath and PWD minister AK Sharma had taken cognizance of the reports of road subsidence at several places between the Post Office Crossing and Rikabganj and in front of Krishna Palace Hotel on Ram Path.

Moreover, the state government also served a notice on Bhugan Infracon Pvt. Ltd. of Ahmedabad, the firm responsible for undertaking civil work in the temple town as part of the makeover projects.

The officials who faced the axe included executive engineer Dhruv Aggarwal, assistant engineer Anuj Deshwal and junior engineer Prabhat Pandey of the PWD. Action has been taken against them for poor construction work in the Ram Path, connecting the Ram Temple with the Lata Chowk.

The Jal Nigam officials who got the suspension order included executive engineer Anand Kumar Dubey, Assistant engineer Rajendra Kumar Yadav and Junior Engineer Mohammad Shahid, for poor drainage in the city that led to waterlogging in several parts of the city after heavy rain on Saturday night and Tuesday.

A departmental inquiry was also launched against the three officers. Sources said that they have been held prima facie guilty for the incident.

The PWD noted that due to extremely heavy rain on June 22 night and June 25, the surface of the road from chainage 3.00 to 3.800 was damaged in a short span of time.

The three officers who have been suspended, said an official, have “serious charges” including slackness in works which are a priority for the government, causing financial loss to the government and for tarnishing the image of the government among the general public, said a senior PWD officer.

Meanwhile, the city, which witnessed a massive makeover ahead of the consecration ceremony of Ram Lalla in the sanctum sanctorum of upcoming Ram temple on Shri Ram Janmabhoomi premises in January, this year,  was found grappling with severe infrastructural challenges due to heavy rain and thunderstorms early Wednesday morning.

The waterlogged Ram path.
Ayodhya witnesses collapse of newly-built infrastructure, inundation of streets following pre-monsoon rains

The PWD authorities of Ayodhya attribute the incidents of roads caving to the hurried carried out construction work. “It takes quite some time for the layers of soil beneath the metallic road to get properly compressed and solidify naturally. But since the construction work was carried out hurried at the time of consecration, the soil beneath could not get settled properly,” says a senior PWD official seeking anonymity.

At the same time, the PWD authorities also clarified that the construction of ‘Ram Path’ was done under a five-year agreement with the firm. As per the agreement, any damage to the road would be rectified by the construction firm for the next five years.

Even the seepage in the sanctum sanctorum of the upcoming temple hit the headlines but the claim was later refuted by Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust on Thursday.

Heavy rainfall caused water-logging in parts of the temple town with locals and tourists having to wade in ankle-deep water to make their way across town.

(Special Arrangement)

However, the local residents of Ayodhya find water-logging an annual phenomenon which, they claim, reveals the flawed planning and supine attitude of the Municipal Corporation of the district monsoon-after-monsoon.

The pre-monsoon showers also led the entrance to the new Ram Temple splattered as devotees were seen lined up outside it with roof missing the sheets, leaving those standing underneath exposed to the downpour. People were also seen walking through a water-logged street leading to the Ram temple after rainfall.

Locals of the areas adjoining the temple premises claimed that water entered their homes and also the numerous guest houses and home stays, which have mushroomed after the consecration ceremony of Ram Lalla in January, this year.

The footfall, despite all the challenges, be it the blazing sun, sweltering heat or the heavy downpour leading to water logging, has been high in the temple town. As per the official figures, at least five crore people have thronged Ayodhya to take darshan of Ram Lalla in his abode since January, this year.

"Rain, as usual, has caused havoc. Streets are inundated. The only difference this time is that water-logging is making the stay of tourists and devotees, who are coming in large number, difficult," says a local resident Ramendra Mishra.

Nirankar Tiwari, owning a home stay, adds that the guest houses and home stays receive 2,000-2,500 guests daily. “The going has got tough for the outsiders as they are not able to get access to four-wheelers or even e-rickshaws to wade through the waterlogged lanes,” he adds.

The common refrain among the local residents is the hurried construction and careless infrastructural planning behind the mess. "The infrastructure plan for Ayodhya was drawn in a hurry to prepare the city for the consecration ceremony. Now it is causing problems both for locals and tourists,” says Saket Singh, a student.

Meanwhile, the social media has also been abuzz with visuals of water-logging, caved in patches on Ram Path and also the collapsed wall of newly-restored Ayodhya Dham railway station. Meanwhile, the both railway department and Press Information Bureau (PIB) rushed to debunk the claim about the collapse of a boundary wall of the newly-inaugurated Ayodhya Dham railway station.

According to PIB, the collapsed wall was not part of the new station infrastructure but belonged to the old station area. PIB clarified that the collapse was caused by excavation activities by a private individual and waterlogging in a nearby private area.

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