The road to corruption

If it ain’t broke, why fix it?’ Probably this line best sums up the sentiments of Delhiites who have been seeing civic authorities constructing, pulling down and then reconstructing their neighbourhood road dividers every few months.

Residents are baffled as newly built central verges are demolished, barely grown plants on it uprooted and then new stones placed there again. They are asking: Isn’t this a blatant wastage of public money? Who is benefitting from this strange exercise?

C Shashidharan, a resident of Mayur Vihar Phase I, says, “It has hardly been a year since a divider, poles and flower pots were put up on the road before Shashi Garden Colony. Now we are seeing government contractors getting the stones and pots removed and installing new stones there. Not only does it create unnecessary traffic blockade but it’s
just stupid.”

“The money they are wasting here could have been used in other developmental work. For example, hundreds of large flower pots on the divider of nearby Vasundhra-Shyam Cinema Road have been lying empty for long. Now they are cracking and falling on the roads. Why aren’t they being filled up? We fail to understand the logic behind such work.”
Vinod Jindal of Vani Vihar, West Delhi agrees. He shares, “We have examples of two such roads here. The main Najafgarh road got a brand new divider just last year. At least 300 saplings were planted on it. Now they have destroyed everything and are doing it again. We have heard that the CM is visiting for a ‘Vikas rally’ on 9th and hence all this is
being done.”

“The other instance,” he adds, “is of the Bindapur main road. A central verge was constructed on this stretch just last year. Now the authorities have decided to re-lay the road in ready-mix concrete and hence the divider has also been demolished to be done again. We wonder who the brains are behind such brainless work.”

Atul Goyal, convenor, URJA (Delhi RWAs Federation), says this is common practice across the Capital. Road dividers and pavements are done up again and again because there is good money to be made for civic authorities and contractors here. “Divider erection involves crores of money. Over many kilometres, stones have to be laid, pots have to be installed and gardening done.”

“When the same divider is dismantled, stones and iron grills worth lakhs are recovered. Civic officials also get a cut from the contractors they select, and so it goes on. Unfortunately, there is no accountability or probity in our civic bodies and we just pass by thinking ‘this is development work going on.’ Once in a while, someone spots it and raises a hue and cry.” 

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