DISAPPEARING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

Sunday, May 25, 2014

THE INEPT BHOPAL MUNICIPALITY

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A local newspaper recently reported that the reluctance o the Bhopal Municipal Corporation in carrying out the directions issued
Encroachments being removed in Varanasi
by the local bench of the National Green Tribunal was very evident in their submissions. It seems the Corporation official want the whole process of action against the owners of the so-called marriage gardens to be stretched for as long as possible.

For all one knows, the hunch is spot on. After all, the marriage gardens would not have been able to carry out their profitable illegal activities without the connivance and support of the Corporation officials concerned. And for the favor done to them by winking at their illegal activities money would have changed hands, and, perhaps, illegal gratification of the Corporation officials continues unabated till this day. Most probably, the payments have now become heftier as the matter is speedily coming to a crunch.


No civic irregularity can continue undetected for long. If any does so, there would be enough reason to suspect foul play on the part of the controlling or regulatory authorities. For instance, encroachments on government lands cannot continue for long unless connived at by the field level municipal authorities. The so-called "Harley Street" of Bhopal where numerous hospitals have illegally come up have been allowed to function by the municipal authorities despite a court order handed out in 2005 declaring them irregular. For nine years no action has been taken - certainly not without any consideration. The Corporation has been hedging and hawing and refusing to move against the encroachers. Now that the Green Tribunal has got into the act there is some movement. The area falls in the Heritage Sector of the town between two (of the three) cascading lakes which formed a unique Nawabi system for rainwater harvesting. 

The most laughable thing is that the municipal anti-encroachment authorities routinely  move around in vehicles with police protection removing small time encroachments but none has ever been held accountable for allowing unauthorized occupation of government or other lands. Once the Urban Administration Minister had a dhaba  (a roadside eatery)demolished functioning on encroached piece of land for as many as 20 years and the incident was given wide coverage in the press. Soon, thereafter some of us of the Citizens' Forum had to meet him at his residence. During the course of conversation I happened tell him what he had done was a great job and asked about the nature of action taken against those who allowed the illegalities for all those years. He categorically stated that in his government responsibility was never fixed. The upshot is that unscrupulous people would go on illegally occupying public property and the government or the Corporation would keep removing them all the time at great public cost repeatedly ad infinitum, on many occasions at the same site. This sort of theatrics keeps occurring in New Market every other month.


That the Municipal Corporation is incompetent and inept would be an understatement. What is, however, is worse is that’s officials and elected representatives are utterly corrupt. This is the story all over the country – whether in metros or two or three tier towns. Somehow the system of local government transplanted from England  has not worked in this country – not because of any systemic fault but because of the inept and corrupt men who happen to come and work the system. 



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