Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Now that the waters have receded it is possible to see the roads, or what is left of them. The picture here isn't Pune, our roads are in a much worse state. The problem is a recurring one: monsoon destroys road, contractors 'fix' road, monsoon destroys road. It's a combination of poor management by the local government and incompetence bordering on fraud on the part of the contractors. The newspaper has found no shortage of road related articles to fill its pages. Today we learn that almost £7m has been allotted this year for road projects of which less than £350,000 has been spent. £300,000 of that has been used up as an advance, so precious little has been spent on actually fixing stuff. The contractors seem to have little incentive to do a good job since they'll get paid again when it needs fixing next year. They are meant to provide free repairs for an agreed number of years after laying the road, but there seems to be an absence of enforcement in this particular area of policy. The end result is terrible roads and, with the amount of two wheeled traffic, more accidents. Travelling in an auto-rickshaw, with its minimal suspension, is a bone-shaking experience. It's also a wallet lightning experiences as the rickshaw-wallahs, not known for their fair and honest attitude towards fares, are hiking their prices even more. They do have a point though, the state of the roads means journeys take longer so their fuel costs are increased. As with most grim scenarios, humour is used to lighten the mood. I liked this joke from the paper: In India we drive on the left of the road, in Pune we drive on what's left of the road.


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