Thursday, February 25, 2021

Not smart

For a long time now our State 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. One can immediately understand it by having a cursory look at the slowed down and faulty development. Even if someone approaches superficially the subject of how the place is developing, and how the infrastructure is raised, would make this point amply clear. There is a kind of disregard towards what we require in long term; this has made us vulnerable 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 our roads, and those who take care of the traffic, are doing nothing. The people responsible, particularly the field staff, are doing their bit, and their work must be acknowledged. But this is only one side of the picture. 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 Kohima, or Dimapur, 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. This can contribute a lot in making our future planning workable and efficient. Similarly there are other sectors of development. Having said that, let us consider our State capital Kohima, now in the process of becoming a Smart City. Admitted that the Kohima Smarty City project is a work in progress, but nothing appears smart in Kohima these days. Jammed packed roads, piles of waste, no footpaths, no free spaces, unmanaged housing, chaotic markets, and most Government offices and education institutions crammed in a small area – that is our State capital Kohima we once knew as a beautiful city. If you don’t digest this description just take a drive around and see it for yourself. One thing is sure that if you have read about its past, or have lived here some decades back, you heart is bound to break; your nerves are destined to flare up. The mess that this city has been reduced to is enough to explode your brain. But why has this city come to this pass? What are the reasons for this deterioration? In any part of the world the management of cities is entrusted to those who have a fine sense of cultural and historical legacy. They have an organic view of what constitutes the worth of a city. They are also trained to preserve the old, while making room for the new. This is an important ingredient of urban management. And if we think of cities; from conceiving the designs, chalking out the details, distributing the work, and finally executing the plans, it is all so immaculate. Each component is perfectly laid out. The management is so scientific that it sounds like a mathematical enterprise. But in our city, apart from the name, there is nothing that sounds like a city. Roads are full of potholes. Just a drizzle and we have muddy puddles all around. Everything in this city adds to the sense of loss. This is our city that we were all so proud of. We all say is a heritage city. We all say is a tourist attraction. We all say is a historic city. But is it worth calling a city?