GOOD GOVERNANCE DEFICIT

It is an irony that despite being gifted with enormous natural bounties the development graph of J&K is least encouraging as a result of which it has been lagging behind most of the states of India. Undoubtedly, the main factor responsible for such a state of affairs is lack of good governance and sound fiscal management ultimately resulting in the poor economic growth of the state. Good governance can’t be achieved by just delivering lectures during seminars or promising the same during rallies but it can only be achieved by translating it on ground. Jammu and Kashmir with its distinct and peculiar cultural ethos, sharing the international boundary with Pakistan and China is enriched with the boundless beauty of snow-clad mountains, large natural lakes, forests, rivers and springs besides multiple other natural resources in all its three main natural regions namely Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. The only thing required is meticulous planning and proper ground implementation so that there is least scope of any natural resource in this state remaining unexploited for enriching the state’s economy though keeping due care of sustainable development. The people of the state especially those in Jammu region have been witnessing that different developmental works are being executed with no coordination at all among the concerned agencies. This fact in itself bears testimony to the fact that good governance and intelligent fiscal management are totally missing from the scene thus resulting not only in great loss to the exchequer but also causing a lot of inconvenience to the public at large whose money is being used in executing the works. It is an open secret that no sooner does the construction or repair of roads in the winter capital gets completed by the concerned agency, immediately thereafter the PHE Department and the telecom companies start digging mercilessly changing the topography of the roads overnight. Though prima facie it appears that there is lack of coordination between the concerned agencies due to which this mess results, yet there is every apprehension of perfect coordination between the concerned agencies to ensure that works are not taken up simultaneously so that the graph of expenditure continues to shoot upward to safeguard their vested interests. This is the tale of almost all the roads in the city of temples where the people had to suffer for years together during the execution of sewerage project that is yet to see light of the day. In this context it is pertinent to recall the circular issued once by the District Magistrate, Leh directing all the Engineering agencies of the Central and State Government functioning in Leh not to indulge in activities which tend to damage existing infrastructure like road, underground cables, water and sewerage lines without prior permission from the office of the District Magistrate and in this regard an advance intimation of any such activity shall be made to district Magistrate’s office giving details regarding place, time and purpose to ensure full coordination among various agencies and avoid unnecessary damages, expenditure and inconvenience. The direction from the District Magistrate had further emphasized that non compliance in letter and spirit would attract penal provisions laid down under J&K Ranbir Penal Code and the J&K Criminal Procedure Court. While this order was welcomed by one and all seeing it as an example of good governance for the rest of his counterparts functioning across the state, it is unfortunate that till date no other district has bothered to emulate this exemplary direction. However keeping up with the old adage ‘Better Late Than Never’, it is high time that the District Magistrates across the state in their respective jurisdictions take similar initiatives to ensure that public utilities like telephone lines, electric lines, water supply pipes and other critical infrastructure are not damaged. This is just a small step towards translating good governance on ground and the same attitude can be adopted in the whole administrative functioning in the state in order to achieve the target of good governance in letter and spirit.