Where is the change?
One of the major justifications put forth for the abrogation of J&K’s special status under Article 370 since the day the decision was taken, has been that this constitutional provision was the sole reason for all the major ills plaguing this place. Since August 05 last year (2019) the government has been arguing with increasing shrillness that the new scheme of things, which also includes bifurcation of J&K into two union territories, will ensure progress, development and transparency. However, it has been more than a year but situation on the ground remains resistant to change. In fact in certain sectors it has only gone from bad to worse. The miserably poor condition of roads and streets in Kashmir, the pathetic power scenario, and ever-increasing corruption and absolute lack of accountability in the administration are few areas which are there for everybody to see.
Since the inception of renewed turmoil here after the abrogation of Article 370 in August last year, the encroachments and illegal constructions have got a new lease of life in Srinagar and elsewhere. For instance, huge swathes of water-bodies and lagoons like Khushhal Sar, Gilsar and Anchar have been and are still being filled in for construction of houses and commercial establishments. Not to talk of interiors, the new shops and other structures that have come up on both flanks of Dr. Ali Jan Road in Srinagar are a visible evidence of official complicity and patronage accorded to the unscrupulous. Same is the situation around the Bagh-e-Nund Singh area, which is at a proverbial stone’s throw from Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), which owns the land that has been encroached in exchange for big wads of sleazy money!
Both Divisional Commissioner Kashmir and Deputy Commissioner Srinagar will most certainly have seen the huge pits and potholes on the road leading to their respective offices. Now if these officials can’t do something to repair a small road stretch just beneath the flyover in Jehangir Chowk, which is right under their own nose, expecting the roads and streets elsewhere to be OK will be like asking for miracles!
One can go on citing instances, one after the other, to prove complete disconnect between what is being said and what is there for the people to see and live with. Rhetorical hyperbole at the political level hardly changes a thing on ground. If this situation – corruption and lack of accountability in matters of governance — was perpetuated by Article 370, its abrogation has not changed much either! So instead of bragging about ‘big things’, the administration headed by the new Lt. Governor will do itself a lot of good by beginning from the basics — which is attending to the people’s basic needs and redressing their simple grievances – by those pertaining to broken and dilapidated roads and lanes and bylanes, chocked drains, improper health-care, with regard to safe drinking water, unresponsive and corrupt administration. Once these simple things are taken care of, it will automatically create a template of change. Then of course there will be no need for the government to talk about it for the situation on the ground will speak for itself.