Monday, April 12, 2021

Monitor projects

We know for a fact that whatever a government announces in terms of policies and scheme is finally measured against its implementation on the ground. And whatever is implemented after all the deliberations, paper work, and necessary planning, is finally measured against its impact, short term as well as long term. Unless government schemes and development projects are seen in the backdrop of what they finally do to the people or the environment in the long run, we can neither update nor rectify the errors. In fact without monitoring, assessment, a regular feedback, and then an efficient mechanism to update, development projects don’t yield the desired effects. Most of the policies and schemes announced, and rolled out, by different departments fail completely, or don’t meet the target in our state just because there is no efficient monitoring. In today’s competitive and ever improving world of knowledge, wisdom, methods, and skill, it is extremely crucial for the governments to have a keen eye on where the policies and schemes are actually going. Are they yielding the desired effects? Are the targets being met? Are the people getting benefitted as was envisaged? What is urgently needed is to have periodical review of the various developmental works in the state. 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 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. Today in our parts of the world many projects don’t meet the deadline, while some are abandoned midway. 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. The point is that monitoring of projects will not only help in locating the snags, but simultaneously fix the troubles. It will also put pressure on all the tiers of any department to ensure that things go the way they are envisaged to go. It will make room for timely interventions, and disallow delays in the benefits reaching the target population. We have usually seen how tardy the progress is on various government projects, some of them completely failing because of the sluggish pace and inefficient implementation. Clearly to improve governance, improving the mechanism of monitoring is supremely important.