The story of all development in various sectors in Kashmir can be summed up in one word, “ad hocism”!
Dictionary defines ad hocism as, “The tendency to establish temporary, chiefly improvisational policies and procedures to deal with specific problems and task”. The definition appropriately fits working in various sectors in J & K. Most of the decisions taken by various authorities are on ad hoc basis in a whimsical way. Let us start with the construction of the fly overs in different places. Most of these have been started and some completed on considerations other than easing the flow of traffic. Unfortunately, Kashmir in recent years has been plagued by VVIPs and VIPs. The most important consideration is always to ensure safe movement of these parasites living on the Kashmir Society. The first fly over was meant to smoothen travel of VIPs to the Civil Secretariat. Interestingly, the project was suggested to Dr. Farooq Abdullah by some engineers. However, after listening to the then Chief Town Planner, he shelved it. But as soon as Mufti Sayeed took over as Chief Minister, the same engineers convinced him and got the fly over constructed. No doubt the fly over gives a smooth run to VIPs but it created the worst traffic bottle neck at the Jahangir Chowk and Exhibition Crossing.
The other fly over is to provide a smooth passage to the airport to the VIPs notwithstanding the impact it would have on the population en route! Again it is an ad hoc whimsical decision. There are two parallel roads which could have been sufficiently widened with an extra bridge at Rambagh to have through passage to Airport. This flyover is supposed to have been funded through an Asian Development Bank loan. Some Civil Society members approached one and all for taking up the alternative and shelving the fly over. However, they did not succeed as there were allegations of huge pay offs in the allotment of the contract. Already some more fly overs are under construction on some other roads!
The most annoying aspect of these huge construction projects causing immense inconvenience to the citizens is the hurry in starting these on ad hoc basis. Normally, in most of the countries where such projects are taken up, the first consideration is to provide alternate routes for smooth flow of traffic till the projects are completed. Not in Kashmir. Here, everything happens on the spur of the moment. One fine morning one discovers there are some diversions because of a road or fly over project. The diversions are through lanes, by lanes and so on. What is most fascinating to watch are the contraptions and all sorts of wires and iron pieces used to mark out the diversions? The roads look like junk yards! In a number of countries one has observed the diversions are more smooth and appealing than the main roads! Well, one cannot fault the engineers or the traffic managers for these unseemly scenes! Tragically, the state of most of the roads, lanes and by lanes is already in a total mess. The living example of this mess is the repeatedly changing diversions being made for the fly over near Rambagh.
There are a number of other ad hoc decisions regarding parking places, setting up of fountains in the middle of crossings causing total obstruction to line of sight for traffic from various roads, converting a traditional parking place in Lal Chowk area into a park to prevent meetings and processions and so on. We are masters in making master plans, but past masters in totally violating these. Land use, building bye laws, proper drainage is always given a go bye. It will not be fair to put blame for all those violations on the authorities. We are ourselves responsible for umpteen violations in every sphere for totally personal reasons. Take the case of some of the new colonies. These totally lack in proper drainage and sufficiently wide roads. People, instead of leaving couple of feet of their own land to have wide roads, encroach on the government land, thereby turning roads into narrow lanes. God forbid if a house in these colonies catches fire; no fire brigade vehicle will reach it!
There has been a total free for all in some of the affected posh colonies after the last flood. People, instead of rehabilitating themselves, have gone in for massive constructions of a commercial nature. Instead of once having been calm and peaceful private residential colonies, these are now turning into commercial hubs in violation of the strict guidelines given in all master plans in total violation of land use and building bye laws.
The latest ad hoc decision is the change in School timings for the smooth passage of VIPs. The schools are being asked to run from 7 am to 2 pm. The main objective is to ensure a smooth ride to our aristocratic rulers to the Civil Secretariat. Usually most of the top ones go home for lunch. It would be in keeping with the summer timings of Jammu to have similar hours for bureaucrats and politicians in Kashmir also as with the climate change we are expecting a very hot summer. They could have timings of 8 am to 2 pm and go home for lunch after office hours. The kids could attend school from 10 am to 4 pm.
The main cause of ad hocism is the total lack of accountability which has resulted from a perennial state of political uncertainty. No one is responsible or accountable to no one. A complete state of anarchy. Many people have been heard saying that the Governor’s rule was much better as true accountability had started appearing on the horizon. People were happy during the Governor’s rule but not the politicians. There is only one way to clear that impression. The politicians have to get rid of ad hocism and introduce complete and true accountability. Till they do it people will keep pinning for another spell of Governor’s rule!