A Road to Misery in Bajpe – a Tale of Neglect and Politics

Any infrastructure anywhere is a mark of development. It brings about improvement in the life of the citizens of a democratic set-up and indicates the smooth working of its institutions. It proves that the administration and elected representatives have fulfilled the various programmes promised or planned for development.

It also signifies that the tax-payers are getting their due share of development without any partiality. Citizens’ problems and grievances are taken into account and solved without further suffering by the citizens. Everyone expects these things to happen. This encourages the citizens to further take part in the democratic process.

The above thoughts may sound like mere wishful thinking. But in reality, just the opposite things happen. Things could go beyond the control of the tax-payers on account of politics, power games, rich people, enmity, callous attitudes or sheer neglect by the administration.

Take the case of villagers or those at the grass root level, that is to say, local panchayat administration and a level above. The elected gram panchayat member keeps on changing every five years. He tends to blame his predecessor for not solving the problems during his tenure. This goes on in a cycle and it has continued until date.

We as citizens vote in every election as our constitutional right, hoping for a better administration and facilities in the next round. But every time this ‘next time’ fails to come by. It is simply because the elected representatives do not use their right or are not effective in implementing the promised development where needed or the works which should have been implemented on priority basis and on rightful demand. These things are definitely keep fuelling uncertainty. Therefore, the citizens would think twice while voting or paying taxes.

These things may be common in India. Let me specify what made me to scribble all these things. A case needing immediate attention is of a kilometre-long public mud road in Bajpe panchayat. It is close to its office, starting from Shri Narayana Guru hall to the late Bhaskar Rao’s house.

This road is bad condition and has remained unattended and not maintained by the panchayat for about 40 years. It is not in motorable condition and even it is dangerous to walk on it sometimes. It has been all along maintained by the local road-users during these long years. Some persons have been responsible to the pathetic condition of this road by knowingly diverting rain water or flow from their own compounds into this road. 

Some 300-feet stretch of this road is a sloppy, where the problem stands and keeps cropping up again and again. So far nobody has solved this problem although it has been reported to the concerned authorities from time to time.

The road users have time and again brought this matter up at almost every gram  sabha and ward meeting of panchayat seeking maintenance and highlighting urgent need of asphalting / concreting. They have also made verbal and written appeals to solve this problem several times to the panchayat and also to the zilla panchayat, minister-in-charge, taluk panchayat and MLAs from to time.

First, about three years ago, about a hundred feet of road was asphalted at one end. Secondly, about two years ago, about 100 feet of the road at the entrance was asphalted, leaving 150 feet untouched. Then about 20 feet was asphalted and then against 200 feet left blank, finally coming to the 100 feet asphalted as mentioned already.

This pattern of selected asphalting is surprising and the reasons are not known. In this respect it could be said that the spots where exactly asphalting / concreting is a must have been left out’. This portion of the road is turning worse day by day. During any emergency or sickness, this road cannot be used.

We notice that many village roads are asphalted or concreted. A case in question the one that has been fully asphalted a year ago, a motorable road nearby and a recent one compared to this road is taken up for concreting!

The logic behind that concreting by the responsible persons while neglecting this road which requires urgent attention is very suspect. The requests and long struggle of the users of this road to save this road from total decay seem to have been totally discarded.  It is to say that the priority for asphalting/concreting is not taken care of all these long years!

This area has elected Congress, BJP and independent candidates right from the panchayat level to the Lok Sabha level. But the promises for this road have been hanging on for a long time. This gives rise to suspicions about bias and prejudice. I was told by an elected member that there is ‘politics’ and the funds sanctioned for concreting this road is diverted elsewhere. When coming to local administration, one has to visit the entrance of this panchayat to understand its priorities! 
Concreting or asphalting is a must for this road to keep this vital communication link without further loss of time. Those in authority and elected members should clarify their stand in this respect. Is anyone listening? Please take steps on a priority basis.

Author: Stany DSouza- Bajpe- Mangalore