It’s not just budgetary allocation by government that can boost the economy or the quality of life. There also has to be consistency in policy over a period of time for fund allocation to make an impact. To give an example: funds were provided for the widening of the Haridwar Bypass in Dehradun at least a decade ago. The contracts were handed out more than once, but very little has been achieved thus far. There are numerous areas of governance where allocated funds are not even spent because the processes cannot be put into play. And buildings for hospitals and schools can be constructed but where are the doctors and teachers, particularly good ones?
With Tourism being such an important part of Uttarakhand’s economy, has there been anything like a comprehensive and forward looking policy ever since the state was formed? How are the requirements of the private sector to be reconciled with the overall vision of the planners in government? Is it not that too many projects are promoted, regardless of their utility and impact on the environment, only because they involve large amounts of money and consequent kickbacks? This is why there are so many stand-alone projects rather than those integrated with an overall plan! Neither upstream nor downstream requirements are considered when such schemes are taken up.
Even the policy on land went off the rails in the state from the earliest days because of the ideological positions adopted by certain officials, instead of properly matching future projections with available resources. Urban planning and municipal legislation has been, at best, piecemeal. There was so much expected of the smart city concept and what little has emerged. It is understandable that politicians and planners have been in a hurry to deliver, but it is important that the necessary amount of thought goes into plans before they are implemented.
It becomes even more difficult to change direction once a pattern has been established. In such a case, it is important to identify what has been done right and continue with it, while doing away with the mistakes. This will prove less expensive in the long run. Eventually, every finance minister must realise that without this long term vision all that is left is provisioning for handouts in some guise or the other to make people feel better. That is not the ND Tiwari way – such an approach will only pave the way for the emergence of even more Kejriwals at a time when India cannot even afford one.