“The road UPA won'ttake?, is an honest appraisal by the editor (Organiser) of UPA functioning for the past four years on NHD programme (Organiser June 15). It shows that UPA has not realised the importance of these projects, which are to speed up the economy of the country, even though our Prime Minister and Finance Minister are the renowned economists. Indian Express (June 11) has categorically pointed out that there has been a decline in NHDPs progress rate, since 2004, the year NDA government stepped down, as it will be clear from the table.
Further, it goes on to write that project award rate has slumped from 70 per cent in 2005-2006 to as low as 17 per cent in 2007-2008. This assumingly is due to pending completion contracts of previous years, and no planning and spade work done for future contracts. The target for 2008-2009 is ambitious 3597 KM, which is impossible looking into the performance for the past four years, unless the government gives wholehearted attention to the NHD programmes.
The NHDP-I and II projects of national fame, started under National Highway Authority of India by NDA government should have been completed by now. It would have brought laurels not only to previous NDA government, but also to present UPA government. Alas! The work got the minimum attention under their common minimum programme. The result is country only suffers.
The moot point, i.e. the progress on NHDP projects, is not to be viewed alone, which got lackluster treatment, but it is also indicative of over all performance of UPA as to how other areas were managed. This truly shows that things are in mess and out of control, be it infrastructure, agriculture, inflation unemployment etc.
The question is whether we really lack talent to accept challenges. No, not at all. We only have to think in national interest. The incident which startled the whole world in 1947, when our armed forces made possible to bring the heavy weight centurian tanks (about 45 tone each), at the top of the hills in Kashmir to fight against the huge concentration of Pakistani tribals, and army, was a remarkable display of dedication and patriotism by soldiers. Gen. Thimaya exhorted the soldiers, ?Friends, it is for the first time we are fighting for free India?. This worked like a magic. Each tank was dismantled and parts of the same were loaded on hundreds of little ponys and transported to the high hills of Kashmir along with ammunition, where these parts were re-assembled, and tanks fired at advancing enemy. This all was done under the time bound programme where no one failed.
Again in 1956, our government passed industrial policy resolution to industrialise the country in second Five Years? Plan, commencing from 1956. This included the installation of three steel plants at Bhilai, Rourkella, and Durgapur along with other industrial units in India. Although planning and other spade work was started prior to 1956, but the actual work as to the-land acquisition, land development, civil engineering etc.?plant machinery manufacturing, transportation to plant site, installation, inspection and other plant contractual works, administration, man power planning, recruitment and training programmes all were started from 1956. Responsibility of all those works was fixed on various units and sub-units, who were regularly evaluating the progress and worked in close coordination. By 1960, in just four years, all the production and service units in three steel plants were in operation for commercial production. But these days time overrun and cost overrun are common features in national projects.
Just one more example. In 1962, our armed forces were ill-equipped to face Chinese aggression, resulting in shameful retreat. It is only then our government woke up and realised the army'srole. A tank manufacturing factory was set up in Avadi to produce Vijayanta tank. Similarly, gnatt fighter planes were planned to be manufactured at HAL. Our ordnance factories which were till day engaged in civilian production, were again switched over to armaments. In 1965, just after three years, when Pakistan ventured to attack India, Vijayanta tanks, gnatt fighter planes, and automatic and semi-automatic guns from ordnance factories were under operation by our army in the battle field to beat back the enemy.
Lastly, in 1972 Smt. Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, called Shri H. Bhaba, the renowned nuclear scientist of India, urged him that country needs nuclear bomb. Everybody knows that he conducted the first Pokharan nuclear explosion in 1974, just in less than two years.
These instances have been cited to give a bit of comparative view over UPA performance as to what we could do 30 years back. This is not an exhaustive list. There are many more instances where talents excelled. But the present state of affairs is pitiable. At the fag end of UPA tenure people find unprecedented price rise, poor condition of farmers, mass movement of people from rural to urban areas, low progress on infrastructure?projects, power shortage etc. In an article ?A Matter Of Economics? (Organiser March 30), the writer has rightly written that UPA has a plan, but no programme. Further, he writes, a careful study of Economic Survey 2007-2008, exposes the unfinished tasks before the UPA which it is never going to fulfill in its last leg of tenure.
It is not that everything was excellent during NDA'srule. But still one can say that work moved in positive direction due to pragmatic approach of Shri Vajpayee.
But UPA government jettisoned the traditions started by NDA government and adopted the different work culture of dynastic rule, reservations, Muslim minority appeasement, populist unproductive schemes like NREGS and step-motherly treatment to NDA-ruled states. This encouraged the sycophants and hypocrites to elbow out the talents and dedicated persons in the government, resulting economic matters relegated to the background and important infrastructure project not receiving the desired attention at ministerial level in the government. That is why the present sorry state of affairs. Finally this also explains the cause of poor performance of NHDP-I and II started during NDA rule which should have been completed by now. UPA government has cleared NHDP III in 2007, but of what use when NHDP-I and II are still lingering.
(The writer can be contacted at 89/7, East Punjabi Bagh, New Delhi-110 026.)