Imagine, a flood in summer! That's what happened in Bangalore on Saturday. On a night of heavy downpour, water entered houses and basements of apartment complexes, roads became unmotorable, streets resembled lakes, and one didn't know if there was ground or drain under water. The tragic fallout: one woman was washed away. Surely it doesn't speak well of a global Indian city.
More than the tragedy what matters are corrective steps. And, that's where we draw a blank. Civic problems mostly stem out of violations of rules and regulations pertaining to construction of housing and commercial complexes. And, yesterday, chief minister H D Kumarasway, who visited some flooded localities, threw his hands up, and said he would have to handle the issue of encroachments with kid-gloves since it was a sensitive matter. Flagrant abdication of responsibilities? What else.
If a person has been legally paying taxes for an illegal property, and that too for years on end, then there is something surely rotten with the system. Worse, our inability, or better, our lack of interest to set an anomaly right. That's what the CM's statement indicates.
When a government official comes to take action against an illegally constructed building, then the building owner quietly flashes the receipts for the property and all other taxes he has been paying over the past so many years. "If this building is illegal, then how come taxes were collected, why no one told me about this till now? And, how can you take action, when I have been paying taxes for so long?" that's what the owner will ask the government official.
This is typical of many hydra-headed government organisations, wherein one wing is completely clueless to what another related wing is doing. A society and its economy needs to grow, but not in an unregulated manner, like Bangalore has been growing.
The common premise is that one can get away with anything. The joke, "You can even get the governor's residence legally registered in your name", is an indication of the malaise we live with. While the government needs to be blamed for the lack of resolve, the citizens too should ponder over the willingness with which he has exploited the loopholes in the system for his selfish gains.
The runaway growth that has been allowed in Bangalore is like a killer monster that spews goodies. We are happy with the little goodies no matter if there is widespread destruction. If the growth is slowed down (i.e., if the killer monster is tamed and tethered) there may be some inconvenience (the killer's goodies may not the available). But, Bangalore will emerge as a well-administered city.
But the moot question is are we ready to take the pains to put things order; or are we just content with complaining? The howl of protests whenever the government takes a corrective step forward to make this city better, is, sadly, an indication of the latter.