By Hugh and Colleen Gantzer
Our netas are facing a double whammy: an election and Covid. We, the Citizens are facing a life-threatening situation. We have no time for top-down diktats issued by a distant and vague High Command. We have elected you, our netas, not them, to give us what we need. This is what we need as a matter of high priority:-
We need paramedics to give home delivery of medical services, not monkey sterilization complexes. We need Quad-bike ambulances serving even the remotest villages, not a hyper-secret and financially unjustified Dehra-Mussoorie Cable Car System. We need 24×7 drinking water supply to Mussoorie not a tunnel that threatens the very existence of Mussoorie because it will kill our springs. We need the government to discipline its warring departments who seem to live in their insulated cocoons and don’t want to cooperate with any other department in our small state.
Most of all we need you, our elected representatives, to govern and not behave like a flock of perfect black sheep bleating in chorus: “Yes sir! Yes sir! Three bags full sir!”
We do not accuse all our elected reps of such fawning servility. There are independent souls who plough their own lonely furrow confident of their voters’ loyalty. Some conform because they know no better. A few because they really believe that they do not have the competence to differ from the fiats of their Maha Gurus! They have always, across time and the nations of the world, been the foundations of Dictatorship.
Dictators, all across time and the globe, have been drunk with their own self-adulation. This megalomania had blinded them to the civic storm their obsessive pride had created, until it was too late. Italy’s Fascist Dictator, Benito Mussolini, dreamt of re-creating the Roman Empire. He and his mistress were caught by their fellow citizens while trying to escape to Switzerland, and shot.
History, however, always highlights the worst-case scenario. We do not believe that the people of Uttarakhand are likely to be as violent as the Italian partisans. The Chipko movement and the agitation for Uttarakhand are, both, evidence of the essentially Gandhian nature of our agitations. But we do recall a single gruesome act resulting in the death of an official in Mussoorie. Even self-restraint has a snapping point!
Having said that, here is a reminder of our government’s shortfalls.
1. Why has the Jumna drinking water Project for Mussoorie not been completed?
2. Why is Mussoorie’s STP human waste treatment scheme being delayed because of inter-departmental squabbles?
3. Why did our state government transfer a police official for doing his duty in fining an errant MLA for breaching Covid prohibitions or have our netas made a law that prescribes differential treatment for law breakers depending on their status?
4. Is Mussoorie so unworthy of our netas’ attention that we have to accept revolving-door SDMs and then have to share an SDM with another town?
5. Is there any logic in inviting tourists to Mussoorie and then imposing a lockdown on shops?
6. Why have the designated protectors of our forests and environment repeatedly acted as the predators of our forests and environment?
7. Who is responsible for the repeated failures in constructing a Parking Lot at Kincraig, Mussoorie?
8. Why has no Cash Flow Chart been revealed of the Ropeway?
9. What is the name, professional expertise and previous experience of the partner in the Ropeway Project?
10. How has the proposed Mussoorie Tunnel been approved when the Supreme Court has prohibited the excavation of limestone in Mussoorie?
11. Why has the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology’s report on the Tunnel not been made public?
12. If our PWD cannot keep the Mussoorie-Dehra highway open 24×7, can it be trusted to keep the Mussoorie Tunnel open, drained, ventilated and accident-free?
13. If it is our intention to pay a foreign agency to maintain the tunnel, then would it not be better to spend that money improving our health services and preventing the deaths of countless Uttarakhandis?
Our voters are angry and hurt with the toll taken by the Pandemic. When they ask these questions, what will you, our netas, reply?
(Hugh & Colleen Gantzer hold the National Lifetime Achievement Award for Tourism among other
National and International awards. Their credits include over 52 half-hour 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.)