By Citizen Journalist Pravesh
Pictures by Sandeep
The faded footpaths are being painted, the broken roads are being patched up, the darkened street lamps are being lighted on, flowers are being planted along the boulevard and the streets are being swept clean. Welcome Mr. President, to a ‘beautiful’ Jammu, just for you.
The city may be in a chaos under normal circumstances but it all comes in order when a dignitary or a high official pays a visit to Jammu. Such is the case with Mr. President’s arrival today which again brought the temporary beautification of Jammu’s roads and streets into play. Yes, the city is well taken care of under such occasions and why not after all? The First Person is here, who else we need to answer to, the government thinks.
One may experience a bumpy ride on that busy junction of the road with a faulty traffic signal and annoying potholes but who’s to heed to it? The municipal corporation is busy being busy and well, no one is coming anyway? Why should tax paying common citizens reap the benefits from the government, let the elections come or someone important or rather very important pay a visit. Well obviously a city wide drive will be employed and touched up then to put a pretty picture for him.
“I had left for my office and I was 10 minutes through the way, and RED lights; Traffic jam; a sprint of rush banged my mind incessantly, the lights just turned green! A sigh of relief! But no, the traffic was still not moving. People were honking endlessly, the lights were green! Why weren’t they moving..? To my left I just heard a police constable mentioning Pranab Mukherjee on his walkie-talkie.”
Such was the experience with Sapna, when she left for her office today in the morning. Yes, the traffic on that day is another story all together. No proper rerouting or warning for road diversions is provided well in advance. Instead a sudden shut down of major pathways is done and rerouted so poorly that traffic jams become the headache for that day.
Sapna goes on to say,” I saw to my left and an ambulance, helplessly waiting to rush to that hospital 10 miles ahead.”
“A heart patient died when his ambulance was caught in the middle of Prime Minister’s security and ease four years ago.” She recalls. President arriving would not know about this management of traffic which takes no time to cease the management of the life of an ‘aam admi’. With all the claims of these dignitaries to be one of us, they are VIP’s after all. With their red beacons on their VIP cars rushing in a high speed through the clean and wide roads of the made-pretty city, and the perception of government doing pretty well might be taken in by the presidential convoy which otherwise is far from reality. Take the Shakuntla pass or the Vikaram Chowk, where traffic on a normal day is a nightmare at the rush hour owing to the dwindling traffic signals and lenient cops, who, by the way, are all on a tight alert today to have an ideal impression.
The state today welcomes the President. But the state needs to address the issues faced by the common ‘aam aadmi’ aswell. The difference between the commoners and the high officials is even more significant during one of these visits. “They talk about bringing our needs and demands in practice but they can’t even face the streets like a common man during their princely visits to any state and yet they talk big of relating themselves to us-the ‘aam aadmi’, giving us hopes, giving us a light that may be this one might bring a change this time. May be? They can’t step out without their security squads blocking roads and sealing the traffic heightening the troubles for every citizen rather than soothing them. They haven’t even faced the obstacles that we do and yet they know how to resolve us with their grand vows which turn into nothing but public hindrance on roads after a month or two during their regal visits.” expressed Sapna when asked about her feelings about the President’s visit.
No doubt, a state is to honour the elite class of the country, but it is equally responsible to its people and should therefore, work in their favour as well. Maintenance and proper functioning of public infrastructure should be taken care of on a regular basis and not just taken up and polished only when there is a necessary event. If our hard earned money is being taxed and deposited in government treasuries, we sure want a return in terms of proper public facilities, repaired roads, optimized traffic and hence, a beautiful city.