Editorial – Potholes and Govt

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It is perhaps a characteristic of this state. While everybody seems to be preoccupied with construction and acquisition of new infrastructures, be it private property or public one, nobody seems to think the idea of maintenance of the created infrastructure deserves much priority. It seems as if everybody believes any major investment is meant to remain fit and healthy for the rest of their lives. Hardly do we see houses being painted fresh periodically. Instead they are thus treated only when they need major repair works, such as when the roofs start leaking, or the walls start cracking etc. It is not surprising that this same outlook is reflected in the manner the government conducts its infrastructural acquisitions and constructions. After all, it is an index of the collective mind of the people to a great extent. This is especially true of governments incapable of being proactive.
Take for instance the roads, not just in far off districts but also right inside the capital city of Imphal. They are once in a few years, when they have decayed beyond easy use, given major facelifts. Once this is done, they are again virtually forgotten and allowed to atrophy until they become unusable and public unrest over their state of disrepair become threatening. The ritual is allowed, cycle after cycle. The question is why? Even if the ordinary people either by ingrained social conditioning have come to lack prudence in this way, why cannot the government, manned by the choice elite of the society also be capable of coming out of this widespread syndrome. Moreover, when the ordinary citizen leaves his property in disrepair until things get desperate, he may be doing so by the compulsion of paucity of funds. Surely the government cannot claim the same reason. It cannot be in its right mind thinking in terms of constructing infrastructures and then washing its hands off them until they virtually disappear and new ones have to be built over them. The cost of building these infrastructures obviously should include the funds for their constant upkeep.
Only if the government is penny wise and pound foolish would it think earmarking extra funds for the upkeep of the infrastructures it creates is prudent, for it goes without saying it is not. If the small potholes that appear on the roads are filled soon as they are taken cognizance of, the decay of the road as a whole would be delayed considerably. The longevity of these roads would also be at least doubled, perhaps even tripled or quadrupled, therefore resulting in plenty more funds saved in the long run than by leaving them till they need to be newly built all over again. At this moment however, either by design or else by a sheer lack of application of mind, the government remains almost totally negligent of any need for maintaining its infrastructure. Take just the instance of the Kongba road. A huge pothole near the All India Radio, AIR, point has almost become a trench cutting the road vertically across. This has been around for the last three or four months, yet no move is seen even today of any effort at fixing it. The waterproof tarmac thus stripped off, and the soft innards of the road exposed, it is anybody’s guess when the monsoon finally arrives in a month or two, this section of the road and probably more in the adjacent area would be washed off, hastening a total decay. This is also the condition in many other roads even in Imphal city, and it is only imaginable what condition the roads in the districts would be.
It is needless to serve a reminder at this point that it is not just road infrastructures which are suffering from this extremely short-sighted government attitude. It is happening to every other government property. What also has to be noted is, it is not just about the government saving money. Important as this is, there are other considerations why the government must maintain, especially its public utility infrastructures like roads. Indeed, one of the most important functions, if not the most important one, of government in this welfare state is to make life easy and secure for its subjects and these public infrastructures are precisely meant for this purpose. We hope the government will take note and swing into action immediately. It should without delay begin taking interest in infrastructure maintenance. The best to begin this is by filling up the potholes on the roads immediately.

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