While the city is taking pride in the fact that it has been chosen for hosting the National Youth Festival, the scale of the event has once again led to channelisation of manpower and efforts towards its success, thereby leaving the common man unattended in government offices.
The youth fest scheduled from January 12 to 16 will see participation of over 5,000 students from across the country in addition to a large number of guests from the union government and directorates of youth services of various states and union territories. For the last two weeks, the administrative machinery is busy making arrangements, including lodging, food, transportation, security, and as a result work in several offices is suffering.
Soon after getting free from the event, the administration will once again get busy with preparations of Narendra Modi's rally in Jagraon which was earlier scheduled in December, but postponed due to unfavourable weather conditions.
The whole administration, including the office of the deputy commissioner, sub-divisional magistrates (SDM), additional deputy commissioners, police commissioner, Jagraon senior superintendent of police (SSP), office of the district transport officer were busy making preparations for the mega event. But the efforts were a waste of time when the rally was postponed.
Once again, the whole paraphernalia will take time and effort of the officials, but at the cost of public services.
Earlier too, several events organised in October, November and December kept the officials and employees busy with VIP duties for weeks.
Requesting anonymity, a government official said, "If we convene 1/4th of the meetings that we hold to ensure success of the events, to streamline the working of public offices, people will have no complaints against the government."
Ludhiana being the biggest district in terms of population has officials struggling to get work done and such additional functions jeopardise the planning and schedules.
Top bureaucrats act as event managers
Taking a jibe at the nonchalance of the state government towards unattended public offices, Darshan Kumar, a retired government official said, "Ever since his posting in Ludhiana as DC in September, Rajat Agarwal has been busy with management of one event or the other. The SAD-BJP regime has reduced such an important post to that of an event manager, which is unfortunate for the officials as well as for the public."
He further said the same goes for the office of the police commissioner who instead of reviewing the law and order situation in the city ended up wasting the time and expertise of best officials and cops in the futile exercise of providing security to VIPs.
Additional burden on cash-strapped government
Money spent on these events is an additional burden on the cash-strapped state government which is unable to pay the salary of its employees. Funds worth crores have been spent in various events, including Kabaddi World Cup, National School Games and various political rallies, organised in the recent past. Out of the total `6 crore budget for the National Youth Festival, the state share is `4 crore.
Events organised in last quarter of 2013
October: Re-launch of Mai Bhago Scheme and rally in Jagraon
November: Mega Launch of Mission Ludhiana by deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal
December: Closing ceremony of fourth Kabaddi World Cup
December: Preparations of Narendra Modi's rally which was postponed few days prior to the event