The internal roads of Kailash Colony in south Delhi were relaid almost overnight in March last year. The reason: The civic polls were just round the corner.
Kailash Colony's wasn't a one-off case. Most Delhiites claim that civic agencies wake up only when elections are due as there's pressure on them to get their act together.
Claimed Dr Lalit Verma, a resident of Haiderpur near Rohini Sector 18, "The road to Haiderpur from Outer Ring Road was last built nearly four years ago, when the general elections were due. Immediately after the polls, it was dug up. Since then, it has been in a shambles. Councillors and MLAs usually use their funds when polls are due in order to get votes. Many of them even put up boards and posters, claiming how they got a particular road built."
But many politicians claimed this was not the case. "We try to construct roads as and when required. But sometimes, the executive wing delays the project and it coincides with elections. But it is true that every councillor and MLA wants to exhaust their funds before the elections as they are accountable to the public," said Mahender Nagpal, leader of north Delhi Municipal Corporation.
Jagdish Mukhi, Janakpuri MLA, said, "I work 365 days a year. But dense carpeting can only be done after five years. Some councillors save their funds and try to get votes by completing work around elections. But I don't believe in such cheap tactics."
The situation in some colonies is so bad that many have started believing that holding elections every year is the best way to bring about development. "That work gets done almost overnight when elections are due affirms the fact that civic agencies have the expertise to do their jobs. The problem is they don't want to work," said Harvinder Singh, a member of Lajpat Nagar III RWA.
"There have been instances when the road roller is put to use when the people are going to cast their votes. But the roller stopped, when voting got over. It is easy to get work done whenever polls are due. Those same councillors become inaccessible for the rest of their tenure," said BS Vohra, president of east Delhi RWA.
Rough patches in name of roads
Greater Kailash I (E block)
For residents of Greater Kailash I, bad colony roads have become an albatross around the neck. The potholed roads only worsened during the recent winter showers. All requests to have the roads repaired have fallen on deaf ears.
"Colony roads, especially the back lanes, are in a shambles. There is no layer of road left in the back lanes. All we have is dust. The civic agency has not repaired or constructed any of the roads in the past few years," said Rajiv Kakaria, member of Greater Kailash I resident welfare association.
There is no alternative route one can take if a colony road is bad.
"In the name of roads, all we have are rough patches. The civic agencies wake up only at the time of election. This area is one of the highest tax payers in the city but when it comes to providing services, we seem to be the last ones," said Tulika, another resident of the area.
- Hamari Jamatia, Neelam Pandey
Mayor apathetic to own backyard
Lajpat Nagar III
They have complained to every authority - from the civic agency to the area councillor -- but the road in front of the Khannas' house in Lajpat Nagar III still remains broken.
RN Khanna, a retired Delhi University professor, says colony roads do not figure on the priority list of civic agencies. The main roads are repaired, but the colony roads remain neglected for years altogether.
"The road in front of our house is full of potholes. Several times, water from pipes of several houses gets accumulated in the potholes, making the area unhygienic. There's not even proper drainage," said Khanna.
The road falls in an area represented by the south Delhi mayor Savita Gupta, who seems too busy to look after her own constituency. "There are always some or the other excuses," said Khanna's wife Saroj.
Area residents say most colony roads in Lajpat Nagar III suffer the same fate. "The road in our colony was last constructed five years back," said Inder Singh, another resident.
- Neelam Pandey, Hamari Jamatia