A DISMAL scenario prevails on the front of infrastructure facilities and development activities in urban areas of 40 districts, including 12 Nagar Nigams.
This is indicated in reports of senior IAS officers, who visited these areas.
There are problems galore and the ruling Samajwadi Party faces a disadvantage of sorts in view of the anti-incumbency factor.
Taking note of this situation, Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav has asked the IAS officers to expeditiously implement the announcements made by them during these visits.
A close scrutiny of the officers’ reports indicates that merely 18 to 20 per cent of the districts get 18-hour power supply. Nearly 50 per cent posts of doctors, or para-medical staff, are lying vacant in major district hospitals. Sophisticated equipment, including X-ray and ultrasound machines, are available in hospitals at many places. But they are not functional due to shortage of staff. There are also reports of gross irregularities in distribution of Below Poverty Line and Above Poverty Line cards. The officers have reported that the cards have been given mainly to 'stooges' of influential district leaders. The reports referred to lack of cleanliness and a poor sanitation system even in cities like Agra that attract international tourists.
The officers pointed out that 'safai karamcharis' working on contract basis were performing better than others.
The situation prevailing in metropolitan towns came up for informal discussion after Friday's meeting of the State Cabinet where the chief minister expressed serious concern about the stinking drains of Kanpur.
The CM's off-the-cuff remark brought into focus observations that senior IAS officers made about the dismal scenario in urban areas.
The chief minister asked ministers to take care of points raised in the officers' reports. The reports themselves came up for discussion informally at the Cabinet meeting held earlier.
There is a growing feeling that remedial measures may help in nullifying the anti-incumbency factor and counter the Opposition's onslaught.
The chief minister sent senior IAS officers for night camps in 40 districts to make an assessment of problems being faced by people in urban areas in the first week of June 2006. Urban areas visited by officers included 12 metropolitan towns having Nagar Nigams.
The chief minister asked officers to make on-the-spot announcements to solve problems of local people. On their part, officers tried to make some announcements that included sanctioning of funds for important roads etc.
Officers, thereafter, paid another visit to the same areas in August-2006 to ensure that their announcements were implemented.
It remains to be seen whether the announcements bail the Samajwadi Party out in the local bodies' polls?
Another interesting aspect is the condition of roads. Though officers said concrete roads were in good shape, the State Government, mainly the Urban Development Department, probably paid no heed to such observations. Thus, it continues to discourage construction of concrete roads.