Saturday, June 19, 2021

Dysfunctional system

There is an urgent need to have periodical review  of various developmental works in the State considering that almost all works does not meet the deadline, while some are abandoned midway. Such periodic review, perhaps district wise review of works, might foster administrative responsibilities of concerned officers associated with such works and imbibe in them the spirit of being more people friendly. It will also encourage greater mobility in officials to move about from out of their offices to visit the sites of the projects and take stock of all related developments. When the authority at the top level visits project site in towns and remote villages, it conveys enough message that the days of status-quo-ante, inertia and torpidity generally found in our offices had gone. The biggest cause of public outcry and nursing of being subjected to injustice in offices is the stonewalling attitude by majority of officials to the issues of the people. Firstly, the concept of approachability and meeting public to hear their grievances is grossly ignored. Secondly, the red-tape and when will a particular work or an issue be settled is not made known to the aggrieved public. Thirdly, even urgent and works related to basic amenities are not prioritized and last but not the least accountability is nowhere to be seen as target and timeline oriented working culture is missing. Since our rural and remote areas are more susceptible to shortage of drinking water and erratic supply of uninterrupted power stress should be laid on addressing these main problems generally faced by the people. Administrative heads, district authorities, etc must be asked to camp in villages and spend a few days to see for themselves the conditions over there, interact with the people and if possible, resolve the problems on the spot. Here it needs no reminder that in the overall architecture of governance if things have to work smoothly, all organs must work to the optimal. If any of the parts has a problem it affects the overall functioning of the system, and leads to multiple failures. Unfortunately in our part of the land the failures are many, and ever increasing. This sometimes gives you the feeling that nothing will change, and things are doomed to spiral down into the depths of dysfunction. Take the case of the departments that are assigned with the task of undertaking development projects – constructing building, laying roads, giving us new bridges, or providing us the services of supplying water, electricity and other basic amenities. Though the rule books are up to date, and we have everything written down to ensure efficient functioning of the departments, but on ground the situation is contrary. We have almost all the projects getting delayed by huge margins of time. We have the design and content of the buildings and other stuff always under question. We have the public utility side of the projects always staring in the eye, posing some tough questions. Worst of it all, we have none to be held responsible and get answers to our questions from. You talk of the top brass and they pass on the buck to the lower staff. You talk to the ground staff, and they put the blame on higher officials. In this blame game we have learnt to live with the system that is functioning in an inefficient way. It is in this dysfunctional state of affairs that the contractors find themselves badly stuck. The works that have already been executed have not been paid for. This is bound to affect the economy of the persons and the firms involved, and also create a discouraging atmosphere. For those at the helm it is extremely important to understand that once a business cycle is broken, it is hard to get the things back on track. It is not just the question of receiving payment later than it is due, but a problem of throwing a business into a downward spiral. Many businesses never recover, and most of them are hurt permanently. If the development work has to go on, and if firms involved in this sector are to work with interest and professional attitude, it is extremely important that payments are released in time. The point is on paper we have specific goals that have been set, and the vision is clear. What is missing is a proper strategy to accomplish the desired results.