The fate of the floating restaurant in the Tehri Lake should not become the motif for governance in Uttarakhand. Some leeway can be given to the incumbent government for the exigencies posed by the Lok Sabha elections and the run-up to them, but it is now time to address the many challenges the state faces on several fronts. In a scenario where there are not enough funds to deal with all the problems, the government should establish its priorities and the message should go down to the grassroots. For too long now, the indicators on performance have been quite poor.
If there is a lesson to be learned from the sinking of the floating restaurant, it is that the state’s administration needs to boost its maintenance culture. Be it the roads, the ‘international’ ice-rink in Raipur, or the numerous new constructions built to house the rapidly proliferating commissions and boards established by the government, there have to be protocols to ensure public money is not wasted through neglect. Like their mentor Modi, the state’s political leaders need to address the issue simultaneously at multiple levels, including the social and human resource ones. In the case of the floating restaurant, how could such a property be so totally abandoned that it could sink without any efforts to prevent it? Was nobody responsible? Should not those directly in charge be held accountable? No heads have rolled thus far.
Going by reports, this is the situation that prevails in all the institutions, be they the government’s universities, corporations or boards. Be it the issue of due diligence while appointing officials, or that of ensuring the designated jobs are being done, there has been great laxity. It is no wonder that the outcomes on the ground are so poor, with the common people getting little in return for the taxes they pay.
This lack of governance is also being reflected in the law and order situation. There is a spike visible in every category of crime in the state, and it seems to have become a haven for criminals from other parts of the country. The government seems also to have turned a blind eye to increasing social tensions, particularly in the hills, where certain inimical forces – including anti-national ones – are being provided a clear field.
It must be remembered that it is not just headline grabbing events which contribute to good governance – it is a daily slog involving established routines that have to be gone through meticulously, over and over again, to get positive results.