Thursday, June 20, 2024

The PWD mess


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Never before have the roads in Meghalaya been in such a sorry state. It reflects on the incompetence of the Public Works Department (PWD) or the spiraling levels of corruption that persist in that Department. Meghalaya has yet to find a PWD minister with a track record of honesty and integrity. Transfers and postings of officers and technicians should be the prerogative of the state chief secretary. But such is not the case here. There were times when engineers themselves complained of having paid money for their postings or transfers but were short-changed by a colleague who paid more money. With this dirty track record how can the PWD be expected to deliver the goods?

One of the reasons why corrective action cannot be taken in Meghalaya is because chief ministers are mortally afraid of losing their chairs if they crack the whip. Hence the chief minister turns a blind eye to the shenanigans of his PWD minister and continues to preside over a rule of corruption. But the public is now disgusted by the sheer scale of sleaze in a Department which is supposed to be the foundation of infrastructure creation in the state. Social media is actively scrutinizing the poor quality repair work that is currently under way in the GS Road. Young Meghalayans are less forgiving of attempts to loot the state. They are ready to take on the high and mighty unlike their elders who have been supine all these years and only discussed corruption in hushed whispers or in the comfort zones of their drawing rooms.

One of the evils plaguing Meghalaya is the inability of the vigilance agencies to check the conflict of interests when an MLA is also a contractor executing roads and building works under the PWD and is simultaneously holding office as Parliamentary Secretary in the same Department. How can we expect a fair deal here? A time has come for the public of Meghalaya to decide whether they still want to elect businessmen as their MLAs – a trend that is fast gaining currency (pun unintended) because this category also owns enough currency to buy votes. However, the youth of Meghalaya has to do more than social networking. They have to get out and take on the evil forces of corruption in a public movement akin to the anti-corruption campaign of Anna Hazare. Unless the public of Meghalaya decides to take on corruption head on, this State will be destroyed brick by brick.

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