Afew weeks ago, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had drawn attention to the progress made by the State during his 14-year rule by referring to the improved standard of living of contractors of the State. We had reacted strongly to this bizarre means of assessing progress by referring to the prosperity of the most despicable section of our society. [At the same time, there was little that could be said about the taste of our Chief Minister who had earlier also said that that his State had progressed because more urban women were able to avail of the services of beauticians!] Now that the full fury of this year’s monsoon has been unleashed, we have an even better assessment of the kind of work that our contractors do and the misery and misfortune that they mage to spread. [And we are talking of a community that has no shame about taking full payment for work half done, very partially done or not done at all.] As in the past, this year too we have seen the number of substandard embankments that have collapsed, causing death and destruction, desolation and utter penury to thousands of people who have had to take shelter on highways because of floods and badly-built embankments. But this year, we have also seen the several sections of tiol highways that have completely collapsed, turning highways into rivers and cals. We have only our contractors to thank for such catastrophes. Many years ago we had suggested that the State government should display boards along highways indicating which contractor had constructed which section of the highway concerned. This would let the public know which contractor was accountable for a badly constructed section of the highway. But our democratic government seems to be more on the side of the unscrupulous contractors rather than on the side of the people.
The Role of Contractors