The prime minister acted with deliberation when he stopped the thoughtless damming of the Ganga in its high reaches as it comes down from its source, Gomukh. He took the tough decision of writing off the money already spent on this faulty endeavour based on unscientific and anti-environment plans. In a concerted effort to stall the damage and start a process of changing the discourse on such national issues, he has shown civil society that he is listening — a hugely important attribute of proactive leadership. We salute his intervention and hope that he will carefully sift through the many ‘development’ proposals that come to the table, and bear upon members of his council of ministers to comprehend and respect the thin line that differentiates a gross exploitation of land and natural resources from a sensible use of the same for growth. Careful assessment of the areas that mining companies want to usurp is a tough exercise and requires scientific expertise and non-partisan, honest appraisals, conducted with integrity of purpose. Unfortunately, the members of the group of ministers are not necessarily equipped to do so. Hopefully, there will be more such rethinks and correctives.
The Commonwealth Games have lost their prestige. Enveloped in corruption and layered with greed, India’s proud venture has evaporated into the polluted atmosphere of the capital. Politicians and administrators alike spout all kinds of excuses and endless denials. All of that has come to nought because people can no longer be fooled and need no convincing about the loot that has happened in the name of the CWG.
The grand jury comprising the people has proclaimed the verdict — all the bodies involved that report to the government of India and the state government are guilty of malpractice, of a profound failure to deliver a world-class product, of tacky, makeshift restoration, and of looting with abandon.
It has been a national shame. Everyone is unsure about the quality of material used for roads, flyovers, underground facilities. Delhi may eventually look good but will the infrastructure endure? Rumours abound about how the Yamuna is being dammed to prevent the flooding of the Games Village, built knowingly in the floodplain of the river, and how the excess water generated is being diverted to the slums, to drown the poor and voiceless citizens. Imagine the resultant horror of such a decision, all for a two-week international meet, for which the specially created infrastructure meets no standard at all. We should respect our poor rather than put on a façade for some foreign visitors. All the work for the CWG could have been completed months ago. There was no planning, no delivery systems, no parameters spelt out for strict accountability. There were numerous points of reference specially crafted to allow government departments, contractors and vendors to carry on looting.
Regardless of the CWG, Delhi should not break down with one day of rain. It is a scandal. Drains need not be clogged. Roads should be built with correct inclines. Laws should be enforced. Municipalities should be made accountable. Excuses for non-delivery citing corroded mechanisms must be silenced. Those who fail should be fired. Electric supply should be 24x7. The water in our taps should be potable. Instead, we are wallowing in hypocrisy and ineptitude. Those who rule, gnawing into the back of others who generate wealth for this country by dint of hard work, have their basic facilities intact and supplied on the hour, every hour, regardless of shortages, rain, hail or snow. They, like parasites, have eaten into the social fabric of this country, reducing the strong pillars of democracy to about-to-snap poles.