I was in Patna a few days back and what I saw was heartbreaking. Patna, in its present state, would easily qualify to be the dirtiest Capital City in India. And it is not the failure of the administration alone – it is the failure of the residents of the city as well.
Patna has been subjected to years of civic apathy and yet Patna'ites lead their lives as if this is the only way – I have always wondered whether we are tolerant or indifferent. I don’t think we are either – I think we, at the moment, are collectively ‘less civilized’. You may get angry but the current Patna paints the very exact picture for its residents. I will write on this someday but let me stick to the agenda for writing this post.
I have taken a few pictures of the ‘hell’ which Patna is becoming (many believe it already has become). And what I did with those? – I wrote a rant letter to the major stakeholders of Patna (CM Office, DM, PMC Commissioner, Urban Development Minister and Secretaries). I am making that letter open to public through this platform.
Why am I doing this? Because I registered my voice and I believe you should do the same if you are concerned with the way your city is being treated currently. Write to them (their email IDs would be easily available on net). Make them realize that you still care for the city; that its residents deserve a much better life; that the first step towards regaining old glory would be to set the basics right.
The letter/ mail as sent to the stakeholders:
Subject: Patna is in a Mess - It Needs Your Immediate Help
I am a nonresident Patna'ite/Bihari who believes that Patna is in coma and needs immediate help from all of you to provide a decent life to its citizens. I do not know how many of you would actually read this mail. I also do not know the manner in which you would react if you read the mail. However, as someone who is concerned about the city, I think it is my duty to bring my concerns to your notice.
I have recently paid a short visit to the city and frankly I was left ‘unimpressed’. In fact unimpressed is a very mild expression to the feeling which I experienced – I was disgusted and ashamed at the current state of Patna. Before some of you discard me as a BJP troll (which I am not) I will request you to at least go through what I have to say and then decide.
I believe that the cities and villages should at the least provide basic amenities required to lead a decent life. I am afraid Patna of today fails to qualify even this minimum bar. It is littered with filth; boasts pathetic roads and traffic management system; is encroached; does not have streetlights; does not have proper drainage and sewerage system and the air pollution levels are alarmingly high. In fact, if a survey is done today, it would emerge as the dirtiest Capital City in India.
A capital city should be the showcase of the government to attract investment – it should instill confidence among the potential investors; it should be able to attract the top talents in the country (and if possible from across the globe) to make the place as their own; it should also provide an environment conducive for cultural, emotional and intellectual stimulation; it should stand out for hope and aspiration – and all of this starts when the city starts providing basic amenities to its residents. If Bihar has failed to attract desired investments, it is not only because of the lack of land and electricity but also because its towns/ cities and especially the Capital City have failed to instill confidence.
If you think otherwise then you only need to look at the pictures I am providing to support my case. It is highly unlikely that you would not have seen what I saw during 36 hours of my stay in Patna. These are not only signs of failed administration; these also suggest an indifferent and failed society. I am writing to all of you in one go because we are staring at something which comes under the heading ‘collective failure’.
Don’t we feel ashamed being subjected to such images day in and day out? And if yes, why is there no urgency in our actions to revive the city? Why the city is still sitting on the dump of garbage (as per the Urban Development Minister)? Why are manholes not covered? (Frankly, in most of the places where common people work, if we would have administered over such a colossal disaster we would have been kicked out unceremoniously). Why are the roads (especially the interior ones) in shambles? Why are there no prompt corrective actions visible?
You may cite lack of manpower; resources; planning; continuity in administration etc. to whisk away the responsibility but where is the contingency? And why should the people suffer because of the ineptness and inadequacies of a few departments? There was once an agency which was awarded work to clean the city – they started with a bang and kept Patna clean for a few months. And then there was a conflict with the administration over the fraudulent claims and things went bad again. Why did the body not initiate corrective measures if it knew that the company is passing on fraudulent claims (and allowed the things to come to standstill instead)? The same story was repeated with the city bus service sometime later. Why the waste management system is yet to kick off despite having the funds for the last six months? Why the committees which decide on these important issues meet monthly/ bi-monthly and not daily?
You may build the Museum and the Ghats; the Convention Centre and the Culture Gate; the Elevated pathway and the Ganga Path; but ultimately you need to provide basic amenities to the people on an urgent and regular basis. Until you do that, you would not be able lay foundation of a truly great city. Patna was once the greatest city in the world – it is now dependent on you on what this city would be in future. Before you cite the 2031 Master Plan, may I also introduce the concepts of Short Term, Medium Term and Long Term plans? Patna needs immediate attention and you must give that to it now.
At the moment, I am requesting you all to get the short term measures right. Get the budgets for roads and see that they are repaired immediately. In Noida, where I reside currently, we lament that they lay the road very frequently – Patna stands at the other extreme at the moment. Till the time agency/agencies) is/are decided for waste management system, ensure cleaning by hiring contract labourers (but ensure the city is clean – The areas surrounding Patna Junction offer very bad experience to first time visitors). Ensure that the manholes are covered (they can take lives and you would not want to have any role in such tragedies). There are many things which can be done and are not being done because of our callousness – kindly look into those and implement corrective measures.
This is a rant letter – I am capable of writing a much coherent piece but that would be for some other time (I had written about the need of plantation drive in Patna and shared a draft blueprint to some of you – I hope you would have read that mail). I hope that this letter would move some of you to action. You are hope of Patna and other cities/towns of Bihar. Please fulfill the expectation(s) of the residents of your state.