Sunday, November 19, 2017
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When I bid goodbye to 2013, I  have no regrets. The year began with high hopes for Allahabad. We were hosting millions on the occasion of Mahakumbh that came after 144 years and were  quite justifiably optimistic that the bounties given for face-lifting the city would turn Allahabad into a  heavenly spot  on earth.

The way  our ministers and bureaucrats were rushing up and down from Lucknow to personally supervise the arrangements for the great event   were more than enough to make us feel very, very hopeful that Allahabad would turn over a new leaf. Our expectations ran high. But the Mahakumbh came and went and our hopes and expectations were dashed to the ground. And we the citizens felt cheated --more so because our plight now is much worse than it ever was in the pre-Kumbh period. Just recall those days when the whole city had been dug up and we were told that as soon as things were levelled our sanitation problems will be solved for all time. We will get gushing water in our taps and our garbage waste would be turned into power to ease the electricity supply position. Are we the any better? 
The citizens know the answer. But I would like to ask those responsible for this horrible state of affairs. Is their conscience tormenting them? But I am wrong.  I  am knocking at the wrong door. For how can they answer this question when they don’t have any conscience at all.
 The world might have appreciated the massive Mela arrangements because these were to be under observation and on trial for just one month. No matter how fragile they were, they could bear the brunt of 30 days and more. And the Mela arrangements are temporary anyway for how else would recurring profiteering be possible year after year when fresh sums are allocated for creating the same facilities? These facilities   could easily be turned into permanent features, obliterating the need for annual sanctions , annual reconstructions which benefit the contractors  and middlemen and of course the commission extorters. In what we see around there is  hardly anything worth remembering.
 When we look at the Allahabad after the Mahakumbh, we feel  cheated. Look at the state of our roads. They are in a horrible state. Some of the leading roads, repaired amidst much fanfare for the Kumbh, completely renovated in some cases, have turned into pot-holed nightmares. This is the gift that the administration has given to us. The water supply system is in a mess. People are getting polluted supply. It is most erratic at times with supply  in some areas not forthcoming for days, weeks if not months on end. Was this the post-Mahakumbh Allahabad that we had dreamt of?
The drainage system is no better. The streets present a dirty look with Safai staff going periodically on strike. The dust bins lie overfull, broken and battered at several places. Encroachments have increased in spite of the periodic anti-encroachment drives that are undertaken. The encroachers reappear in no time. Some of the  encroachments have been completely uprooted. If they reappear who is responsible? There are cars, cars everywhere with not a spot to walk because the footpaths have been covered with building material or construction waste with none in the Nagar Nigam bothered  about exercising their right to fine the defaulters and confiscate the material. Why?
 It is an inter-departmental responsibility but unfortunately no one is there to strictly coordinate their efforts to enable them to lead a combined assault. That then was 2013- best forgotten. We were cheated of our hopes, our dreams that  had been cherished  when the Mahakumbh preparations started. Now the same farce is being witnessed for the Magh Mela preparations. Deadlines come and go till the authorities are forced to relax restrictions and allow speed to gobble up quality. Year after year this has been happening. But no one bothers to rectify the situation. Threats are doled out in the strongest of words and we hear top functionaries warning the erring staff  to severely punish those who will not complete work by the deadline and produce good work or else they would be dumped into the Ganga. Mercifully that was not done or else  the Ganga would have become even more polluted.
Allahabad  sheds tears for the demise of responsibility among the different wings of the administration. The officials might be having the best of intentions. But if intentions alone would matter then Allahabad would have turned into a heaven by now. It is hell.  That is why I say I have no regrets  for the outgoing year.

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