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“Were we supposed to vote for this?”
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“Were we supposed to vote for this?”

Shah Tavseef MairajGovernments promise roads, water and power, but Shah Tavseef Mairaj, 22, from India says unfulfilled promises and incomplete projects leave voters in his neighbourhood questioning the wisdom of voting for promises.

Rupees 482.7 lacs, reads the signboard as the ‘Project Cost’ of the road supposed to be completed by this time. 

On the same road, in my village, while strolling home from Masjid one easily enjoys the privilege which no VVIP (don’t know how many V’s to append!) in this country enjoys – the privilege of inhaling a mouthful of dust emanating from the withering road as the tippers, Chevrolets or Marutis zoom by! 

I don’t know who to blame. The government, the engineering department, the executing agency, the district administration or the contractor? 

I guess this privilege is being selectively offered to the people of some particular areas only.  Being a frequent visitor to the summer capital, I often stare at the double or even triple black topping of the VVIP roads once such a person is expected to visit the valley. The yellow lines carefully painted along the sides of the road give the VVIPs a royal feeling as they travel along with their long cavalcades, stalling every other traffic movement as they go. And then coming back to my place, I sometimes feel like using my skull cap in place of a handkerchief to avoid the above-mentioned uninvited ‘privilege’! And I wonder we were supposed to vote for this!

The autumn this year has been a pretty silent affair, at least in our part of the Valley, partly because Kashmiris now have enough money to outsource the harvesting work to the people from Bihar, Bengal or UP.

While the labourers from outside the state do the harvesting work in the place that fetches them one of the highest wages in India, we are busy watching T20 and Bollywood, which are beamed Direct-to-Home thanks to cable TV and ever so competing DTH services. The other factor to the silence of the autumn this year has been the absence of proper irrigation facilities. Now here I may be asked to complain to God instead of the government as the rains have been irregular. But then it was not the case of irregular rains in the previous years. Lift irrigation schemes, foundation stones of which were laid by ministers who may no longer even be sitting MLAs at this time, lay defunct. 

Further with paani, there are neighbouring villages that seem to have to wait an eternity to get a glimpse of the water tanker for fresh potable water for daily consumption. The mere sight of the water tanker sends the whole womenfolk (as well as kind men) into a tizzy with some even coming out with ‘jajeer naer’ and any other vessel capable of storing water! And for water for other purposes, it is the same old saga of women carrying pots on their heads to the neighbouring streams. I guess we were supposed to be part of the great Indian success story and we were supposed to vote for this!

Since the last time we voted for Bijli, Sadak and Pani, much water has flowed down the rivers in our state, giving motion to the turbines at the Baglihar, Kishenganga and other power projects. Yet the hours of electric power curtailment for the common Kashmiri remain the same. I wonder which contributes more to the power cuts – the illegal hooking on power lines which the shrewd among us are adept at, or the ambition of the Indian corporation that controls the prized power projects? 

Now that the other favoured alternative to bijli have been capped to six per year on subsidised rates, we are made to think and go ‘retro’ or ‘metro’. Retro in the sense that there are fewer choices left like food cooked on chulha for a candle light dinner, or metro in sense that we are going to have FDI that will bring KFCs and McDonalds that mean a pizza is just a phone call away with no need to cook on our own!

While most of the people, even in government, justify the elections in the context of delivering basic services like bijli, sadak and paani, the dismal delivery or complete absence of such services makes one think, “Were we supposed to vote for this?”

Photo: © Commonwealth Secretariat

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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