Since our NGOs are quiet, our Opposition parties are quiet, and we Mysureans are quiet about bad roads, we will only ever have bad roads. Our silence has paved a path of unpliable roads for us, and road to riches for them, the politicians. We deserve it.
Elections are here and cosmetic tricks have begun — TAR-nishing city roads. The elections are here, and our Government is busy asphalting roads. But why are they asphalting good roads?!
D. Devaraj Urs Road was fine. The KRS Road, the patch near the Railway Museum, was fine. The patch near Akashvani Circle was fine. Main roads in residential areas are fine. So why did they re-asphalt main roads that are in good shape when interior roads need more attention?
And why are they doing it so unscientifically? And why just before monsoon?
Because re-asphalting good roads only requires spraying tar, whereas if they wanted to make a good road, they would have to peel the bad road, prepare the ground underneath, and then asphalt it. This means more time to complete. More money, which means a longer tendering process and longer time to get a kickback.
Worse, by re-tarring good roads without peeling the old one, the height of the road keeps increasing until the footpath is below the road. This causes rain water to overflow into establishments and houses besides the roads. The people will obviously complain and then ‘viola’ it’s time for another ‘big tender’ — more money again.
Monsoon will soon be upon us and after the rains, the roads will peel off. Then in the name of beautifying the city for Dasara, again re-asphalting will be done — more money again.
In short, by unscientifically re-asphalting good roads the Government is prepping up the roads to be bad in time so they can call for ‘tender’ again and money can be made again, and again.
Our roads are NOT made for driving; they are made for earning. Roads are the perennial money-earners for politicians and their contractor friends. Roads can be asphalted often, and therein lies its perennial earning power.
This reminds us of the saying, “when a politician sees the light at the end of a tunnel, he calls a tender to add more tunnels.” This keeps the ‘billing’ perpetual.
Our State in the last five years has spent Rs. 20,060 crore just on the roads in Bengaluru alone! Yet Bengaluru has the worst roads in the country. In 2022, our CM said he would put in place a maintenance audit to monitor road development in Bengaluru. Where is this audit?
Corruption in road construction is so bad that former PM from the Congress Party, Dr. Manmohan Singh, noted, “Corruption in road construction projects has spread like cancer to every corner of our vast country.”
But now as good roads in our city are being destroyed, why are the Congress and JD(S) MLA aspirants in our city quiet? Why aren’t the local opposition parties Congress and JD(S) making this an election issue?
No Government ever curtails this re-asphalting menace because road contractors are politically connected and are significant donors to the party’s kitty.
In Germany, payment to a contractor is made completely at the end of a 4-year warranty period. In Spain, final payment is made at the end of the 1-year guarantee period. Sweden retains half of the bond amount until the completion of the warranty period.
In India too we have a similar ‘performance guarantee deposit’. But the deposit is so insignificant compared to the money a contractor makes by NOT making the road, that he doesn’t mind losing it.
In 2015, the Mumbai High Court, in an interim order, held that “right to have properly maintained roads is part of the fundamental right guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution of India and in the event, any loss is caused due to its violation, the citizens have a right to seek compensation.” But alas, who cares?
Of course, sometimes compensations are indeed given but in other countries, giving compensation is seen as ‘loss’ to the exchequer but in India, it is seen as an opportunity for free publicity by politicians.
Ironic, considering their corruption was the reason for bad roads and the accident. Worse, the tax-payer gets looted twice. First the politician makes money in the form of kickback, and after the accident due to his corruption we pay for his publicity in the form of victim compensation. Wah Bhai Wah!
And no one is protesting!
Mysureans, NGOs and Opposition parties have become complacent. And when you become complacent your leaders become indifferent to your needs and are emboldened in their corruption.
As the saying goes, “Find out just what people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them.”
Since our NGOs are quiet, our Opposition parties are quiet, and we Mysureans are quiet about bad roads, we will only ever have bad roads.
Our silence has paved a path of unpliable roads for us, and road to riches for them, the politicians. We deserve it.
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