We, the Citizens
By Hugh & Colleen Gantzer
Once again our state government is treating our resources in a callous way. A report in the Garhwal Post of 9th June states that our Ice Skating Rink, which cost Rs 80 crores when it was constructed in 2010, is now being converted into an ordinary sports stadium.
Either because no Cash Flow Projection was made before the project was sanctioned; or, if it had been made, no one kept checking if the Projection was in accordance with ground realities as they developed. If the actual Income and Expenditure vary significantly from the Cash Flow forecasts, corrective action must be taken immediately. Very obviously this was not done. Or, as is more likely, the whole project was sanctioned on some neta’s or babu’s inner feeling, like indigestion!
THIS WAS, QUITE OBVIOUSLY, A CLEAR CASE OF CULPABLE NEGLECT BY SUCCESSIVE STATE GOVERNMENTS AND THEIR POLITICAL BOSSES. THOSE EIGHTY CRORES WERE THE MONEY OF THE CITIZENS OF UTTARAKHAND AND SHOULD HAVE BEEN USED TO BETTER THE LIVES OF OUR PEOPLE. Was this just a jumla to fool the people, or does such a deception fall under the provisions of Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code?
No, we are not thinking of a PIL. When the child of the high and mighty can almost get away with running over protestors, what chance does such a case have? But, perhaps, this will be just another nail in a future election coffin!
On second thoughts, will the fear of coffins really disturb those of our legislators who have criminal cases pending against them? Men like Nehru and Rajendra Prasad, Vallabhai Patel and BR Ambedkar were men of steel principles, not some of the cattle-class wimps we see so often today. Why do we call them ‘cattle class’? Well what else can you call people who allow themselves to be herded into luxury cattle cars to be driven to 5-star cattle sheds because, otherwise, they could be poached? How can anyone poach a person with principles? So if these sellers-of-their-consciences are fast becoming the rule rather than the exception, who does a common citizen go to, if he wants a wrong like the Ice Skating Facility rectified?
Simple: go to the People. Go to the Citizens. Money that is proposed to be spent for the benefit of the Citizens should be subject to the scrutiny of the Citizens. The Right to Information was enforced to achieve this. By moving over the years it has been eroded with the Government’s often No-Objection-Certificate. This must stop as must our insidious drift towards Orwell- Big Brother syndrome.
Every project proposal for the supposed welfare of the people, and with an estimated cost of Rs 10 crore or over, should be accompanied by a projected Cash Flow Analysis. This analysis should be published in a regional and national newspaper at least three months before the start of the project.
These should be published in both the Official and the Associate Official languages.
Our objective is to make information available to the Citizens. What they do with this information is entirely up to them.
During the long Covid evenings, we have been watching Telangana’s effective portrayals of its many achievements. But then, CM CSR is not subject to any distant, self-serving High Command. Is that the secret of that new state’s portrayed successes? If that is so, then all we can advise our netas is the old Biblical phrase “Go, thou and do likewise!”
Finally, dear netas and babus, we would like to remind you that you live in a rapidly shrinking world. Nothing you do can be kept secret any more. Your deeds and misdeeds can reach the other side of the world even before today has dawned there. If you feel secure living in the past, so be it.
Please take your hand out of the till or the Cash Flow will snap down on it!
(Hugh & Colleen Gantzer hold the National Lifetime Achievement Award for Tourism among other National and International awards. Their credits include over 52 halfhour documentaries on national TV under their joint names, 26 published books in 6 genres, and over 1,500 first-person articles, about every Indian state, UT and 34 other countries. Hugh was a Commander in the Indian Navy and the Judge Advocate, Southern Naval Command. Colleen is the only travel writer who was a member of the Travel Agents Association of India.)