Patch Work

There seems to be something wrong in our system that keeps us at ease all the time, even if it is a pressing situation and demands action. We work at our own pace and nothing on earth can change our style of work. It hardly makes any difference that we are extremely slow in our output. There is an air of calmness that surrounds us all the time, especially when we are entrusted with something that needs to be executed in a time bound manner. It is against our dignity to complete our work in a time bound manner. We love to keep it going on endlessly till it become a festering wound for people who suffer because of it. But nobody seems to care. We take refuse in our victimhood to justify our inability. For everything that we can do, but do not do, we have a handy alibi called unfavourable situation or more accurately halaat.

Take for instance the highway project in Kashmir and Jammu respectively that were started simultaneously but had different fates. The 70 kilometre stretch in both regions saw different pace of work, different working attitudes and different politics altogether. While the highway from Udhampur to Jammu is complete, despite it passing through precarious terrains, and already in use, the highway in Kashmir – from Nowgam to Qazigund is still in its infancy.

The Udhampur-Jammu highway had many major bridges and sharp curves that needed to be taken care of before it was made functional. After working round the clock, the end result is one of the finest mountain roads in the region.

But the same 70 kilometre stretch in Kashmir that is almost straight and has no major bridges is still in its initial stage. The work on the Kashmir highway was stalled a number of times because of court stays, compensation disputes, lack of coordination, non-payment to local contractors, embezzlement, mismanagement, local insensitivities etc. As the work in Jammu region stands completed, Kashmir has not moved beyond 20 per cent.

It shows the kind of work culture we have in this part of the world where things as important as roads are taken for granted. Ideally Kashmir side of the highway should have been completed by now. But the situation on ground is completely different. There are hardly any workers on constructions sites. They have either abandoned the sites completely or are put off by mismanagement and non-payment of their dues. There are more angry faces around then there were before!

It is not because of the executing agencies inefficiency that Kashmir missed the deadline repeatedly but because of our work culture that we have failed. Look at the condition of 3 kilometres Pantha Chowk-Sempora road stretch that was laid some three months back. It has already be re-laid, repaired, patched and re-patched several times. And the dividers give an impression of an active war zone. It looks dull and dirty. Why can’t we be as workaholic and smart as others!

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