While rodents and crabs are being blamed for wall collapses and dam breaches, Ironically, it is most often their human avatar who displays their traits and causes damage with their mentality.
Last week, Maharashtra’s Water Conservation Minister, Tanaji Sawant stated publicly that crabs were responsible for the breach of Tivare Dam breach, in Ratnagiri, which killed 19 people. In September 2018, when there was a major breach in the Right Mutha Canal, near Dandekar Pul, in Pune, washing away many houses, State Water Recourse minister stated that rodents and crabs gnawed at the foundation resulting in the breach.
Blaming the smaller creatures for covering up gross corruption and inferior quality infrastructure by contractors in nexus with bureaucrats and political leaders reeks of arrogance as they are assured of protection from any accountability or rigorous punishment.
In a sense, the rodents and crabs are actually flexing their muscles through their culture, almost omnipresent in municipal corporation and government departments, where the peer crabs pull down honest officers, (resembling crabs in a basket which bring down the crab which is trying to climb out).
Similarly, there are enough rodents like home sapien specimens which eat into the taxpayers’ money, considering it their own because they are in power and so have the power to loot.
We have seen several instances of corporators, across political parties, playing the role of rodents and crabs.
The recent one being, in 2018, of the dynamic IAS officer, Tukaram Mundhe, Chairman & Managing Director of Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML), who was transferred within 10 months of his tenure here.
Pray, why? Because he sacked the chief engineer and nearly 160 contractual drivers, hauled up contractors, demanded punctuality and efficiency in PMPML so fraught by corruption since decades, monitored constant breakdowns of the fleet.and wanted to improve its financial condition.
A gang of crabs responsible for taking this decision pulled him out of their way so that they can merrily continue with all the wrong doings that is, in the ultimate analysis, is hurting the common passengers, who bear the brunt of regular breakdowns and insufficient routes and are thus denied their rightful public transport.
That a gang of rodents, in the human avatar, are constantly devouring public money resulting in low quality infrastructure projects be it making roads, insufficient and inefficient Sewage Treatment Plants, tiling of footpaths, giving permissions to illegal encroachments of buildings, changing land zones, in buying of materials for several purposes and so on is evident in the end-product that the citizen receives and has to compromise on.
In the 1990s when Municipal Commissioner Arun Bhatia razed the illegally constructed pub of an elite hotel and followed it up by some more action on other buildings, the local corporators, across political parties ganged up against him and ensured his removal, despite the High Court having passed a stricture against his transfer.
Thus, pulling down honest civil services officers is the norm, across all states of India. For finally, the political bosses call the shots and ensure they remove any IAS or IPS officer or any honest working government officer, who they think will not toe their line; which means, they will not compromise on weakening the organisation through dubious deals. So, even if the bureaucracy has the reputation of being the fraternity that many a time indulges in red tapism and plays the proverbial dog in the manger, I feel it is the political class that play the role of rodents and crabs and have brought governance, a bad name.
It would be interesting to note that as per the Executive Record (ER), 8% of IAS officers have average tenures of 18 months or less and an analysis of the ER of 2,139 IAS officers who had completed 10 years or more of service until November 2013 reveals that frequent transfers are depressingly common.
The report published in Times of India states that ‘Vineet Chaudhary, a 1982 batch Himachal Pradesh cadre officer, has been transferred 52 times in 31 years, the highest in the country. Similarly, Assam-Meghalaya cadre officer Winston Mark Simon Pariat has been transferred 50 times in his 36-year career. Kusumjit Sidhu of the Punjab cadre witnessed 46 transfers in a career which spanned over three decades and like his famous colleague Ashok Khemka, Haryana cadre officer Keshni Anand Arora is also serving her 45th posting.
‘There are 13 officers who have undergone 40 or more transfers in their career. Interestingly, seven of these are from the Haryana cadre alone which emerges as the worst state for an IAS officer to be posted in.’’
As for the Pune Municipal Corporation, we have seen several officers, apart from the IAS kind, who have not been transferred for years and are occupying important positions.
Since they are convenient for the Netas, you will hardly see any heads roll even if people die of wall collapses or are living in misery due to bad quality constructions, for example several buildings under the slum rehabilitation scheme.
How can things improve for the common man if the people responsible are never hauled up?
#All views in this column are those of the author and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.
That's Vinita Deshmukh, Senior journalist and RTI activist who believes in journalism that reflects the views and needs of the common man.
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