The infrastructure of development twisted and turned into crooked selfish one-person agenda
Where the development issues cry for attention
Just travel around in Tamil Nadu by road. You will notice that the roads are so old, so old world fashioned with all their zigzag returns and twists. You can’t enter and exit any of the major district towns even today, after all these expansions of national highways and the beautiful opening up of the lush countryside on either of these Western style broad and straight lanes!
You can’t enter Coimbatore, the major district town outside the Chennai city. The town along with its sister town of Tirupur, the export hub, are linked by a road whose alignment is still years old and the road accidents in this part is still routine. So too the roads that lead from the town towards the hill station of Oooty. You still drive up to the Blue Mountains through the potholed roads and the passage is narrow.
So too the roads approach to Trichy or the exit from the same city.
One can go on narrating this tale of woe.
You might wonder that after all, it is the minister from the state who is the Cabinet minister for national highways and ports and such a high profile minister must be attending to these woes. But then you will see that this minister’s track record on the national highways authority is very poor. He tried to change the chairmen of this body four times in four years; the last attempt was turned down by a fearing and reluctant Prime Minister! Such is the clout of the alliance partner!
The city of Chennai itself for an outsiders, for a visitor from outside the state, say, for one who is from Bangalore, the city of Chennai, once the oldest in the then Madras Presidency, is a city of poor infrastructure that you enter the city from Bangalore on the beautiful national ways at the end of the NH with the board warning you: End of the Toll Gate Road. You then suddenly find yourself as if you are entering into a slum dog city! Yes, the city from the Koyambedu to Amjikarai is a series of slums it seems. The roads haven’t been widened for ages, it seems. That is the feeling you get.
Yes, there are now as many over bridges in the city as elsewhere but a comparison with Bangalore would give you an idea how Chennai is having a poor urban infrastructure while Bangalore, with all its yet-to-meet demands for infrastructure, you come from a modern American city to an Indian city that is still city with its poor roadsides, dust and smoke and unpaved sideways and the lack of any green cover, in spite of so much awareness for green cover and urban landscaping.
Where is a big enough lung space in Chennai as we have in Bangalore with the beautiful 250 acre Lal Baugh and the 300 acre Cubbon Park. There are so many newly-laid parks in Bangalore while you don’t have enough greenery. We haven’t noticed during the recent many visits. The contrast stands out.
Coimbatore being our native city, we noticed the deficiencies more often.
We were not surprised when we noticed during the current electioneering in the Coimbatore constituency, the parties and the candidates were raising the issues of urban infrastructure in Coimbatore.
No wonder, in road accidents, the state comes second ,next to Maharashtra.
The local CII has come out with a list of demands and also a list of unfulfilled promises in the past. The CII document says that in the past 10 years no major urban infrastructure project has come about in the city. No over bridges, no expansion of the city roads, the roads are so clogged and congested and no major water supply projects, the pending water supply projects are pending for so many decades.
Once the city was surrounded by beautiful lakes and water bodies. All now encroached and gone for ever!
The lifeline of the city, the ancient Noyyal rive is dead and in stretches near Tirupur, also near Erode, another industrial hub with a large export industry, had totally polluted the rivers and the vast acres of cultivable land.
You can’t enter these new export hubs and ext, thanks to years of neglect in building tiring roads or expanding the narrow roads inside the cities.
Tamil Nadu is one state which can be described as a victim that had fallen to the very peculiar politics pursued by the Dravidian parties, in particular by the ruling DMK under the vice-like grip of Mr.Karunanidhi who in his present avatar, is the Chief Minister for the fifth time and in an age when most men would have retired so gracefully. But not this Chief Minister.
The DMK politics is also very peculiar. Everything you would expect from a modern elected government is absent here. The ruling party is in a minority and yet the DMK refuses to share power with the Congress. Also, the DMK had bargained and got all the powerful Cabinet ministers’ posts in Delhi in writing before the alliance formation!
Also, the DMK chief had so manipulated, almost through a carefully designed psychological warfare that both the Prime Minister and Mrs.Sonia Gandhi are terrified to talk to the DMK chief and they just dance to the tunes of the DMK even when it comes to very sensitive questions like Sri Lanka. The PM refuses to open his mouth and counter the very pernicious strategies the party pursues to keep its opponents on the tenterhook, always the DMK wants to be the one-upmanship party in every issue.
So, there is rampant corruption of massive proportions and the governance norms are so flouted and the socio-cultural map of the map is marked with so much social evils, from Tasmac liquor flowing under the government agency and degeneration of governance is so steep that the police are divided into ruling party and Opposition party factions!
The ruling party is now a most powerful force, with every small or big elections are targeted in such a way that money and muscle power wins the day.
So, we see massive populist schemes like free colour TV sets, free rice to free land and now well-targeted funding of the individual voters.
The method adopted is to pay and bribe the voters beforehand and also forewarn dire consequences if the voters don’t vote as promised! The last by-election at Thirumangalam is described as the most violent, most corrupt election. This description is given by the state election commissioner himself!
So, for any intelligent observer, it doesn’t need much expertise, that the state funds are squandered on the populist schemes that fetch votes in every election, more success of this method drives to go for more freebies and where else the revenues have gone except into such squandering.
So, it is no wonder that the states basic infrastructure is left neglected.
Who cares? That is the question no one asks. No one dares to ask.
The elite are silenced. The so-called middle class is silenced, the Tamil language chauvinism is whipped up every now and then and so the state doesn’t even remember the basic development issues. The separatist trends, through Elam Issue, Tamil in danger, Tamil protector, the state CM, such fantasies are built up through heavy state funded advertisements in the newspapers, that everyday you wake up to see the broadly smiling aged CM for your own chagrin!
Image Source : thehindubusinessline.com