Editorial – Before the Rains Returns

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The rains have halted for a while. It will be back soon in bigger monsoon torrents if all goes as per normal seasonal cycle. But this break can be made used of meaningfully by the government. The least it could do is to fill up the potholes on the roads as well as repair weak spots before the rains return. Now that weather forecasts technology has advanced so much, it can actually plan out its work schedule much better than it could 10 years ago. Investing in renovation works now will save the government a lot more money in the near future, for the potholes and weak spot, if left unattended, would virtually trigger total or at least much more substantial damages of the roads during the monsoon. One wonders why this thought does not occur to the government on its own without anybody having to remind it. Local MLAs which are the eyes and ears, as well as guardians of the constituencies they represent, should have brought up the matter before the government for necessary action. Or is it a case of there being no such system of feedback in the establishment. If there isn`™t any, it is time for the government to introduced one. Let the government also realise that it would not only be saving expenses in the long run, but also doing a great service to the people it is supposed to serve.

We wonder why the government gives so little attention to maintenance of infrastructure. If it were to give the matter of maintenance a fraction of the attention that it gives to laying foundation stones or inaugurating new public infrastructures, so much would have been set right. The enthusiasm for the latter is such that our leaders would even agree to lay foundation stones or inaugurate structures ranging from public toilets to community halls where they would make fiery public speeches with an air of self assumed grandeur of imagined epic proportion. Perhaps as a tactics, a tradition should be introduced where our leaders are encouraged to cut the ribbons even in cases of public infrastructure renovation works and allowed to make speeches. This hopefully will encourage them to think of repair works more seriously and with far greater interest.
Jokes aside, this is a matter of concern, and indeed a big lacuna in the attitude of the government. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can keep in good shape without routine repair renovations. Roads are no exceptions. So why does the government not keep aside a separate budget for this purpose. We would even suggest a different government department with the responsibility of ensuring repair works are executed promptly, catching signs of damages early and fixing them before they get extensive. Let us remind the government once again that such a policy would save it considerably amount of money and quality time rather than put more pressure on its exchequer. It does not have to be recruiting fresh employees. It is just a matter of introducing a new structure to division of work responsibilities in its engineering departments. What seems to be also missing is a system of accountability. If a certain stretch of road or for that matter any government infrastructure is in a bad condition or have not been built as per specifications and standard, there should be somebody to answer. As for this latter proposition, in all likelihood the system already exists. The question is, if this is so, why are damaged roads left unrepaired for months until the damages become so extensive that the public are left with no choice than to resort to public agitation?

Nothing seems to be urgent in the eyes of the government. The only things that perk it up are the periodic mock epics and tantrums from various warring civil society bodies which are supposed to be challenges to the territorial integrity of the state. The war drums and war cabinet meetings recently over the opening of a party office of the Naga Peoples`™ Front, a Nagaland state political party, at Senapati headquarters by the Nagaland chief minister, Neiphiu Rio, is just the latest example. It may be recalled, all the clamours in the end proved to be nothing more than what the great bard William Shakespeare said in those immortal lines: `a story told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.` Instead of wasting its energy on such frivolous matters, we wish it would give more priority to keeping public utilities in good shape. For all one knows, such a shift in priorities would in the end prove to be the solution to episodes such as that of the Senapati fiasco.

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