Whiff of a Flower scandal ?
In this age of scandals and price hikes, any kind of scam is possible. With the opposition parties fighting their own battle for survival, there appears to be no positive move to curb the rising prices, which have already gone through the roof. In Delhi and its surrounding areas, the increase has been phenomenal. From power to water and from buses to metro, there is an upward trend.In addition, the proposal to levy additional taxes is going to make things worse. And one wonders why are common citizens being subjected to this continuous torture, which has upset every household budget.
In Parliament as in media, there seems to be more excitement while discussing either the nuclear deal or climate change. There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that these two issues are of great importance. However, the issue, which is top most in the minds of a common man, certainly more than the other two things is that of price rise of even essential commodities.
The government too appears to be not bothered and keeps on talking about inclusive growth. The opposition has not been able to cash in on this major problem. This was one issue, which could have put any government on the mat. The silence or the muted manner in which the matter has got raised shows that there is no enthusiasm in political parties which are either trying their best to settle their internal squabbles or are pre-occupied with things best known to them.
I happened to run into some officials of the Delhi government the other day after a long time. They were reluctant to talk about the various happenings at the Players building (the Delhi Government secretariat) but one of them did hint that in the name of common wealth games, caution had been done away with. The cost of every project has escalated many times and the ambitious Signature Bridge on Wazirabad side of the Yamuna would cost almost double its original 600 Crores. I was taken aback since no games were expected on the Wazirabad side and in any case, residents of that area would be happy with a simple bridge or a few simple bridges instead of a state of the art Signature Bridge. For those who are not familiar with the area, a lot of dirty water from which foul smell emanates flows over which this designer bridge is to be built. One cannot stand at one spot for more than 30 seconds if one has to avoid being overcome by the stench. So what is the logic of having a Signature Bridge there and spend so much of exchequers money.
This is not the only project where the cost has gone up. There is no shortage of examples and it is likely that if things continue in this manner there will be a deficit budget, which the government may have to present in the coming year. While at the national level, the Koda scam, the NTPC scandal, the Emaar-MGF irregularities are in the news, in Delhi other than the Signature Bridge, many new landmarks are being achieved in respect of lavish spending. If rumours doing the rounds in the Players building are to be believed, there could be a proposal to purchase flowers worth seven or eight crores for the Commonwealth Games. The flowers may have to imported from Holland and Thailand and some other countries. Thus the proposal if true, has the making of the first flower scam anywhere in the world. And that too in the developing world. Flowers are highly perishable particularly in tropical climate.
Though Commonwealth Games are likely to bring honour to the country and may help give a facelift to Delhi, it will be at enormous cost. The city is already paying a price and any visitor to Connaught Place will tell you how difficult it is to park your vehicle, leave alone go to any shop. I have been a visitor to CP since my childhood and from the time I was in the University, not a single day passes when I do not take a round of my favourite place in the capital. Of late this has become virtually impossible since every block has been dug up and there is never ending construction activity. I wish if this was started much earlier and had been done in phases. The result is that during the best time of the year in Delhi, CP may become out of bounds for most of Delhiites because of no parking space.
Delhi is indeed becoming unlivable and this should dawn on political parties and politicians. While, it is good to talk at one level about everyone having the right to come and settle in this city, it is equally important to rationalize the settlements so that civic amenities and other infra structure does not break down. I am not giving the Shiv Sena type of line but for any city, especially a historic one like Delhi, it is most important that better planning and more settlements in the NCR region must be created so that the city does not burst at its seams. Maybe I will do a blog on Delhi’s pathetic condition sometime. Till than the whiff of the possible flower scandal is enough to make my eyes close in despair.