Corruption must be tackled
Road engineering and traffic management, for instance, are highly evolved sciences and services which are effective only as long as these are carried out on scientific lines. However, the problem with J&K is that ‘scientific management’ is as if an alien concept, and its absence is visible in each and every sphere and sector and not just in road engineering and management of vehicular traffic. Though using technology, as is the case elsewhere in the world, is always of great help, but for this there has to be a change in the basic mindset, first in the bureaucracy and then among the general public as well. As of now both remain overly resistant to change, and seem in no mood to look at the technological interventions as tools to solve problems. For them this technology too is another aid and agency to earn money, by way of contracts and kick-backs. Very unfortunate, but this is the sad reality, which makes J&K a very dangerous place.
For instance, roads here are laid by private contractors, who get the jobs done by employing unskilled or semi-skilled human resource with no or very little educational, and certainly no engineering capital. Though engineers are there on the pay rolls of various government agencies to supervise these works of contractors, but the corruption-ridden work culture is such that the engineering experts hardly ever invest their scientific know-how while in supervisory roles. Their sole concern and motivation is their share of the sleazy money that comes in lieu of putting their seal of approval of the works on ground, good or bad notwithstanding. There is a fixed percentage that a contractor has to shell out towards the officials at each level in the hierarchy — right from allotment of contracts to realization of bills – and anyone in know of how things work here will testify that actual engineering acumen is almost redundant in this business.
Same is the case with traffic regulation and management. As long as there are violations and violators, it ensures a steady income for those in the regulatory and management roles. If everything goes on smoothly without any problems, hassles and violations, it will mean that people in these roles will have to remain content with only what their paychecks get them at the end of each month. Will they be ready for it?
Take the example of the new confusion created here over the non-J&K registered vehicles. The RTO’s order asking the people using the vehicles that have been bought/brought from outside of J&K – to get them re-registered here, even if taken as per the book and also in good faith, has provided the police yet another excuse to harass and hound the people over such pretexts which are entirely frivolous. It goes without saying that in the garb of implementing the official order on vehicles from outside of J&K, the cops (territorial or Thana police) here are actually also trying to earn some quick buck. And they are quite efficient in this art. One may question their processional acumen when it comes to actual policing – like the half-a dozen (or more) armed personal security officers (cops) not reacting when couple of militants attacked the Municipal Councilors in Sopore two days back – but they are next to none when it comes to showing and exercising their power and might on the ordinary people!
The government will have to do something about bringing in accountability in the system. This is an area that needs immediate and sustained attention if the idea is to put an end to the multitude of problems faced by the population in every sphere and not only in terms of road traffic and its management.