01 Jun 2023  |   05:01am IST

The mystery surrounding development projects

When elections draw closer, one would notice the completely contradictory picture of a few selected projects being completed in a hurried manner, while others are left incomplete for years.

One needs to ponder on what is the intention behind it all and what the people truly want. 

Even as Panjim is the capital city it was left potholes ridden and this could be the outcome of the supposed development. The MLA of the constituency and Mayor of the City, the Monserrate father-son duo, have shrugged off their responsibilities while trying to blame the contractor and consultant for the mess. Atanasio ‘Babush’ Moserrate and Rohit Moserrate, meanwhile, are both on the board of directors on the Imagine Panaji Smart City Development Limited vehicle through which the respective development works are being carried out. Hence, there's no way they can get away from their responsibilities as the representatives of the city as well as constituency. 

The attempt to lay a new sewage system by destroying the already existing one has proved to be a failure. The government system which has taken the task upon itself to develop the city couldn't even find words to cover up the attempts of releasing sewage and waste water straight into the creek, so bizarre is the situation. Why are such projects not planned well enough to be completed before the arrival of the monsoon? Many times such projects are rushed only because the polls are around the corner. Once the rate of inaugurating projects increases, it’s known that the elections are near. Although the question of why these projects stay stalled for the rest of the four years is an unsettling one, no one seems to know the answer to it. 

The projects in the State and the capital city may have gotten delayed due to the pandemic, but the government was successful in starting most of the projects close to the dates of announcement. On the other hand there are also projects which stay neglected for years and despite announcing the deadline for completion of the same, they are hardly followed up. This includes the much anticipated Agasaim-Cortalim new Zuari bridge which is yet to be fully operational. There are also other examples such as road widening work of Patradevi to Polem highway and Sukekulan to Mopa highway. The fate of Electronic City at Tuem and Ravindra Bhavan at Canacona are no different either. 

Many announcements were made regarding reviving the St Inez creek which flows right through the capital city, so much so that the creek should have been gushing out crystal clear water now if the words of politicians were deeds. It is obvious for common people to wonder why there is such inconsistency in providing basic facilities to them. Once the announcements for new projects are made, the public goes into panic mode because roads are either dug up or they're made narrow in the name of the development. The added traffic only adds to their inconvenience, which they have to live with day in and day out. Till date, nobody officially knows why the Kala Academy building in Panjim was renovated and what is the current state of the iconic structure. In the interim, there were rumours that the Academy would be open for all soon, but it's almost certain that it will stay shut at least until the monsoon ends. 

There are occasions where the projects are initiated just because a prominent person wants it to happen. However in reality, this project may not be of benefit to the common people despite the fact that it's taxpayers money, which is used to build the same. The opinions of experts are also not considered while building such projects. In fact, why are these things not considered while drawing a plan for a project? How come the ones involved in building projects do not understand things which common men easily do? Many works were undertaken in the State thanks to the G20 meeting. The city was beautified, again, at the cost of common people's money, and with more meetings scheduled in the near future, this will continue for some more time. The beautification however, has stayed limited to only erecting flags, installing temporary potted plants and painting G-20 symbols on the public walls. The use of all this in terms of sustainable development is absolutely zero.

It is indeed unsettling to think whether a visionary point of view and government works will ever blend together. Who can enlighten the ones who think that development only means laying pavers? Beautification of St Inez creek is an apt example or a case in point. The creek won't become beautiful just by merely building concrete boundary walls. It would be more appropriate to study each kilometre of the creek in-depth and examine the nature surrounding it if one ever wishes to truly develop it. Regardless of all the beautification work, it makes no sense if the gutters in the city were left unattended. The release of sewage and waste water into the creek has turned it into a ‘Gutter Ganga’. 

Many studies were undertaken and reports were created to revive the creek but none has shown the willpower to implement any of it. Everyone wants to beautify the rivers just like Sabarmati in Ahmedabad. Plans to bring a project in Chapora river were also underway without studying its usage, the nature of the river and its relation with the surrounding area. How will that ever work? There is always a sculpture in the rock which appears after chipping away the unnecessary stone. Here however, the river, or a creek for that matter, flows backwards. It’s as if all the struggle is to turn the sculpture back into the rocks.


Idhar Udhar