Candid Notes

Friday 22nd October,2021 | Gajendra Singh Negi | Dehradun

Apocalyptic Apathy

To a general observer the devastation of the picturesque township of Nainital cradled in Kumaon Himalayas was caused by the heavy downpour that occurred on October 18 and 19 but a closer look reveals a saga of gross neglect and apathy shown by the district administration. Following a decent monsoon the Lake Naini was full to the brim and the weathermen had given a warning three days in advance that heavy rains would occur in the area. The CM himself took a meeting of the officials of disaster management and state administration and had sounded an alert but it appears the district administration led by a publicity hungry officer took things very casually. No effort was made to clear the Datt (outlet) of the lake (which till a few years ago used to be a broad canal but is now covered to make space for the bus stand) as the consequence of which overflowing water from the lake wrecked havoc in the low lying areas. To add to the agony of the people the phone numbers of the disaster mitigation cell remained dead for 24 hours and the much hyped disaster response system got submerged in rising water of the lake. Later a SOS to the Army had to be sent to save the lives of the hapless people.

Pressure politics?

At the time when heavy downpour was lashing Uttarakhand – which eventually perpetuated a disaster like situation in many parts of the state- high voltage political drama was taking place at posh Defence colony residence of mercurial minister Harak Singh Rawat in Dehradun. In the company of a saint turned politician of Haridwar, the leader of opposition Pritam Singh met Rawat who was accompanied by Raipur MLA Kau. As expected the meeting kicked up speculation that the Himalayan state could witness another round of defections however when things settled it became clear that the meeting, the pictures of which were diligently sent to the media was nothing but a posturing by the two powerful leaders within their respective parties. Those versed with the style of functioning of Harak Singh Rawat know that whenever he has switched sides in the past, it was done with utmost secrecy. Rawat had famously defended Harish Rawat government as a minister during the infamous budget session of 2016 minutes before pulling the rug and leading the revolt against the then CM. Political observers point out that Harak wants his pound of flesh by getting party tickets to his daughter in law and other loyalists while Pritam Singh wants to strengthen his position vis-a-vis Harish Rawat in Congress and hence the much hyped meeting was planned.

Troika’s triumph

After expressing superfluous concern, feigning prompt action and shedding crocodile tears on the agony of disaster victims, the politicians and Babus are now calculating the benefits the recent rain triggered disaster has showered over them. The nexus of politics, Babudom and contractors always wait for such an opportunity which is invariably followed by declaration of relief, calculation of loss, distribution of compensation, reconstruction works, special packages and financial assistance from outside. The poor but sturdy people of the Himalayan state have experienced many such disasters in the past and had witnessed the prosperity it has bestowed on the contractors, corrupt officers and Netas and they are confident that the expert troika that has perfected the art of swindling would not miss the chance this time around too.

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