What makes our administrative setup collapse in harsh winters…
Preparedness and effectiveness of administrations is judged correctly only at times of disasters, and emergencies. Only a forceful administration and its competent supervisors are able to manage situations of distress with much ease and efficiency. Since ages winters have exposed people of Kashmir to vagaries of hardships, however with whatever available meager resources we have always faced it cheerfully with highest degree of endurance. In contemporary era of science, technology and enhanced infrastructure quick response to disasters and harsh winters is achievable but only with flawless administration. During the last several decades in line with national and international norms we have also acquired latest technology and infrastructure to face and minimize adverse effects of disasters and routine winters, but unfortunately every time our entire preparedness exercise disintegrate at the last-minute.
What makes our administrative setup and systems of disaster management, particularly harsh winter management to collapse? Beyond corruption and carelessness on part of the administration and its managers most of the time our preparedness fails due to lack of proper planning and servile favoritism. Health services, road connectivity, electric and water supply the most vital sectors that get disrupted during natural calamities and harsh winters and require quick and urgent attention. Very often disruption of these vital sectors is symptomatic sign of our lackluster administration. Almost every winter, even after possessing all possible resources, technical manpower, with advance readiness and reinvigorated resolution to serve better our administration fails to deliver to the expectations of people. Reason! Improper planning influenced by political intervention to encourage area specific management and favoritism that too disposed to political demands and Mala-fide plans to support personal interests.
Power or electricity to be precise is the most crucial sector to run most of the essential services like health, water supply and telecommunication and its failure at critical stage makes situation worst, particularly during harsh winters. Come winter, almost every time even the moderate snowfall exposes the preparedness of our electricity transmission and distribution system and the entire electricity system falls down to ground. Under these circumstances in apparently established urban areas power system stop working for days together, leave alone the fate of rural areas that can never dare to have claim for the comfort of uninterrupted power supply and are made to suffer for long. Lack of advance planning and irrational expenditures on non-productive schemes and ventures in state plan and illogical diversions in ambitious centrally sponsored schemes at the behest of political power makes our electricity distribution system vulnerable to more than often breakups. A simple case study that I have experienced in my area and I am witness to it for last more than five years speaks volumes about electric departments improper planning and preferential treatment beyond usual pinches of corruption and carelessness.
Case study—during routine replacement of worn out wooden electric poles with metallic poles under centrally sponsored scheme the replaced wooden poles were left to rot on the roadside and are big hurdle in smooth movement of traffic. Till date, these condemned poles which could otherwise be auctioned and used for other useful purposes are lying on the roadside. Under the same scheme where all the poles were replaced, one of the most pivotal electric poles was left unattended as its replacement was diverted to some other place. This aging and crumbling electric pole that can be the cause of a major accident at any point of time stands tall with the help of a weak steel wire of hope and mocks at the planning, preparedness and sincerity of our electric department.
This incident is tip of the huge iceberg of ill conceived planning, vested interests and inconsiderate approach widespread in almost all vital service sectors of our administration.