It’s a complete overhaul of governance which is the need of the hour in Delhi, not just the repair of roads. When it’s said that governance overhaul is the need of the hour, it's best reflected in the lack of coordination between the state government and the Raj Niwas (Lieutenant Governor’s office) on the issue of the repair of the roads.
Lieutenant Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena on Friday last issued a statement saying that he has directed the Chief Secretary to pass directions regarding the repair of ‘One Road per Zone/Division Every Week’. This statement could be seen as a retort to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who had gone public announcing that the government every Saturday would work towards repairing each road in Delhi.
In a tweet in Hindi, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “Delhi government’s weekly action plan to make city roads excellent. Every Saturday, every agency (PWD, MCD) will work towards making each road under their jurisdiction excellent.” The L-G tried getting better of Kejriwal in his statement saying the repair, maintenance and cleaning of ‘One Road per Zone/Division Every Week’ would bring much-needed and long-pending relief to the residents and commuters of the national Capital.
The L-G also said that he would personally monitor the progress of the works hereon. This statement is in a way indictment of the city’s government’s failure to maintain roads in the national capital. The Public Works Department (PWD), which is the main agency for road maintenance, is with deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia. The minister for long has been claiming that the city roads would be cleared of all the potholes, which unfortunately has not happened.
With the onset of the Monsoon, Delhi was once again deluged with all its underpasses and roads flooded and flyovers letting loose waterfalls. The same was the story during the Monsoon of 2021 when the Delhi government every time it rained would say it had never poured like this in the history of Delhi. This time though it is yet to pour like the last year the sewers and drains are already overflowing and commuters are being put to great harassment.
When the city government keeps claiming of having turned Delhi being a global city, it could at least ensure that at least the roads connecting the city to the airport remain free from jams after a short squall and rain. Last week at Dhaula Kuanthere was a jam during the evening rush hour which in turn had to cascade effect with the gridlock extending much beyond South Delhi. Now Dhaula Kuan is the nerve centre of traffic management with the opening of passages for East, West and North Delhi and also Gurgaon.
The rains and jams deluge social media with photographs of waterlogged roads, with commuters complaining about the traffic and some seeking help from police but seldom has it had an impact on the maintenance of roads. Given the precarious road conditions and the threat of deluge ever-looming whenever the sky has some cloud, it’s pretty frustrating to see the Raj Niwas and the Delhi Government fight over who would repair the roads.
The fact is that the roads in Delhi have not been repaired for a very very long time and they need attention, whoever attends to it is welcome to do so. Delhi for long has been ungoverned, which is shown in its collapsing civic and health infrastructure, public transport system and rising levels of pollution. Delhi needs not just patchwork on its over-burdened infrastructure but an overhaul of its ageing systems. The sooner it’s done the better for all.
Author and President, Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice