DISAPPEARING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Bhopal notes - 1

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Demolition of an under-construction foot over-bridge


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The news has just come that the foot over-bridge (FoB) that was being erected in front of Jyoti Talkies in MP Nagar has been dismantled and the materials are being taken away. Readers will remember that about a week ago the Mayor had visited the site and had found that the FoB was straddling the pavements on both sides of the road and that the bridge was meant for going across only 30 metres. The Mayor probably had received complaints about it and, hence, visited the site. He had earlier found the need for a FoB was greater in what is known as the No. 10 Market and he has ordered provision of one there.
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In so far as the now-dismantled FoB is concerned, it transpires that there was no demand for one in the area and, what is more, no survey was carried out. Whether a FoB was needed here or not was also not assessed and orders were placed and its erection commenced. It eventually had to be dismantled and quite a bit of infructuous expenditure was incurred. The municipality always claims to be short of funds and yet the available funds are wasted in this fashion on whims and fancies of municipal officials

What is, however, important that there has been no report of identifying those who were responsible for the loss of tax-payers’ money. It has got to be a tidy sum. None, not even the Mayor, ever for once said that the responsibility should be fixed and the needless expenditure incurred should be recovered from those who were at fault. So, there is no guarantee such instances would not recur

Fixation of responsibility for the losses caused to the public exchequer is a concept that is alien to this state. Some of us from the Bhopal Citizens’ Forum happened to meet the former minister Urban Administration and Development who had had an old 20- year old encroachment in the shape of a dhaba in Bhopal demolished a day earlier. On being asked what action was being taken against the government/municipal official who allowed the encroachment to persist for this long the minister said there was no system of accountability here. Consequently, encroachments keep occurring in Bhopal and they are repeatedly demolished or removed at tax-payers’ cost and no action taken against anybody. Actually, the municipal administration is very benign and allows its officials to make money for as long as possible


The system apparently is that we pay taxes and these are mostly wasted by various acts of commissions of the municipality. At the same time, while going scot
free, the officials and the elected representatives keep making money without any let or hindrance. 
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