Sunday, June 20, 2021

No planning

For a long time now our governance is ridden with crisis. Not just one, we are actually facing difficult times in many respects. And this is not the case only now, but has been so for many decades. All this has cumulatively resulted in huge damage to the foundations of governance. It is not so difficult to hammer home this point. Have a cursory look at things: slowed down, and faulty development will pop up. Even a lazy analysis of the approaches to development that have been adopted here make this point amply clear. In this all what appears clear is that there is a brazen disregard towards long term thinking; this has made us suffer in more than one way. To understand it, just take the example of traffic management. No one can say that the departments assigned with the task of maintaining and upgrading the roads and those who take care of the traffic are doing nothing. These people, particularly the field staff, are doing their bit. But this is only one side of the picture. Come monsoon every year, the condition of our roads gets exposed in a way that nothing can hide the apathy of the departments that are tasked with the laying and upkeep of the roads. Not just in the far flung areas of the State, even the major towns are faced with the problem of bad roads. And why limit the talk to villages and towns, Kohima and Dimapur are probably one of the most affected in this case. Both cities have a network of roads, always full of traffic, but are being neglected. The Dimapur-Kohima highway is in shambles. You travel in any which way, from any direction, on any small or big road, the story is the same. There are pot holes, there are puddles, and there are entire patches without any surface cover. When things are so bad, it becomes worse with a slight shower. And that is what we have witnessed with clouds hiding the sun, and rains coming down. In this situation aren’t we justified to hold the concerned officials and the departments responsible for the problems faced by commuters? The bad road conditions in the State raises questions that look us straight in the eyes. The weather pattern in our State is not unknown. It is not that rainfall has just this year taken over the State. Why there is no permanent policy for taking care of roads? Why the material used is not of the quality that can stand the weathering caused by shift in seasons? After all we are not just the State that sees heavy monsoon rains. There are areas that are far more difficult in terms of weather condition, but the roads are smooth and strong. Also the patchwork that is done raises questions. It is normally observed that potholes are formed exactly at the same spots. This way we lose time and resource. Why a decision is not taken to review the quality of roads, and the kind of material that is used? Why can’t we have roads that last for good many years and need little upkeep? In fact what we miss is a long term planning, and a matching action on the ground. What would be the status of our roads, say 10 or 20 years down the line; what kind of challenges would surface up; how will new forms of transportation and expansions in our markets affect the whole thing; do we think this way? If we don’t how can we plan accordingly. The result is that our problems pile up despite the departments trying hard to manage it all smoothly. One good thing to do would be to study any city that matches Dimapur, or Kohima, in population profile, road network, business activity, and the cartography of the commercial, residential and Government infrastructure. We can make a scientific study of such a city, and then applying it to our long term problems. By conducting a scientific study of all this we can contribute a lot in making our future planning efficient. The simple point is that are we interested in deflecting a problem for the time being or we want to brace to face it and solve it. If we want to solve problem we must have a big picture up and ready for reference each time we think about the problem.