We, the Citizens
By Hugh and Colleen Gantzer
The re-incarnated Dhami Government wants to step into the scene with all guns blazing! Naturally! Nowadays, Politics has become Bollytics as netas mouth scripted lines, costume designers choose the fabric and cut for the right occasion, hairdressers, make-up artistes and wardrobe mistresses decide what the great neta has to wear for what occasion. Or, so it seems, because it is not the substance that matters, but the illusion! The greatest netas, today, are the greatest thespians. The thought of unscripted lines sends shivers down the leading stars’ spines because of the wrath of the off-screen Financiers, Producers and Directors, though they may prefer other designations.
We have the world’s most thriving Dream Industry, far exceeding the impact of Bollywood in creating illusions. But governments can survive only if they deal with harsh reality. Here, then, Netas-in-Power, are the real problems you should tackle immediately.
1. The Yamuna Project: Against a demand of 15.13 MLD, the supply of drinking water to Mussoorie is only 7.69 MLD. We have shepherded a water augmentation scheme, from the Yamuna, through the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee, and now the pipe-lines for this scheme have reached Mussoorie. But the laying of these lines has not been done with the due care called for. The Peyjal Nigam has drawn the ire of Mussoorie’s citizens and the defaulting officials need to be identified and penalised promptly.
2. Sewage Treatment Plants: The Supreme Court Monitoring Committee supported the creation of Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) to handle the increased human waste load of Mussoorie. The British-era public septic tanks had, clearly, outlived their utility causing a threat to residents and visitors to our hill station. The STPs were an essential project to sustain the public health of Mussoorie. It has been held up by the Forest Department refusing to give permission for some sections of this scheme passing through “Forest Land”. The Forest Department is not the owner of such land. It holds the land on behalf of the citizens of the state. It is in the interests of these citizen-owners for the project to be completed as soon as possible. The CM should intervene immediately and stop this absurd dystopian confrontation!
3. Forest Plunderers: We are a mountain state. Much of the income of our people comes directly or indirectly from our green cover. And, yet, according to news-reports, since mid-February, the state has lost over 1,300 hectares of green cover. Some locals have alleged that forest fires have been lit at quite a few places on purpose by timber mafia and those from the real estate lobby. The months of March and April in Uttarakhand have turned out to be the warmest in the last 30 years. The prolonged dry weather and high temperature have also increased the rate of snow melting in the hills. Melting glaciers have caused enormous loss of lives and property in our hills. If the High Commanders are lowlanders who cannot appreciate our concerns, then it is up to you, Mr CM, to protect the people of the hills from the High Command’s culpable ignorance.
4. Red Beacons: The real problem is not just the conduct of the users of such status symbols, but the burden it puts on our Police Force. Thanks to our cancerous VIP culture, our Police are the most maligned, physically strained, and long suffering of all government servants. Every time a CM gives a Red Light status to someone who might have strong criminal inclinations, he is endangering his voters’ security. That is grossly unfair to us who voted the CM into power to protect and increase our own welfare. Mr CM you do not need to diminish your own status merely to boost the egos of unworthy netas!
5. Who Murders Our Phones? Our public telephone lines are being cut with increasing frequency and apparent impunity. Why? Are we being driven into the arms of private companies? Has this criminal activity been investigated? Have the defaulters been identified? Or are they insulated from such action because of their A-Class connections? Then there is that mysterious woman’s voice demanding that we register our cell phones. Is this another device to make the politically well-connected rich even richer?
(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.)