The relatives of a person injured in the collapse of a roof at Murad Nagar, Ghaziabad, January 3, 2021(Sakib Ali /Hindustan Times)
The relatives of a person injured in the collapse of a roof at Murad Nagar, Ghaziabad, January 3, 2021(Sakib Ali /Hindustan Times)

Ghaziabad roof collapse: The challenge of maintaining public infra

While the swift action taken by the administrationpraiseworthy, the roof collapse is symptomatic of a larger problem that is rampant across India — the failure of the government machinery to not just ensure good quality public infrastructure (all built with public money), but also force contractors to keep to guaranteed timelines and maintain infrastructure projects in good shape during their lifecycle
UPDATED ON JAN 06, 2021 06:14 AM IST

Last week, a roof collapse at a cremation ground at Muradnagar in Ghaziabad killed 24 people and injured at least 17 others. On Tuesday, Ghaziabad Police arrested the contractor who built the crematorium; four government officials, too, have been arrested. An initial report indicated that “substandard material” was used to build the crematorium, and there were other “design issues”, which might have led to the structural failure.

While the swift action taken by the administration and the police is praiseworthy, the roof collapse is symptomatic of a larger problem that is rampant across India — the failure of the State to not just ensure good quality public infrastructure (all built with public money), but also force contractors to keep to timelines and maintain infrastructure projects during their lifecycle. This lack of admin-istrative capability and criminal negligence is responsible for open borewells, weak flood embankments, wobbly bridges, and potholes in the roads, all of which have humanitarian conseque-nces. Slow police action, judicial delays when it comes to taking action against the culprits, and absence of political will to ensure quality projects add to the challenge.

Research from around the world (compiled by TheConversation, an academic website) throws up several reasons why governments slip up in implementing public projects. Announcement is often equated with accomplishment and officials lose interest when details are worked out; when things go wrong, those who speak up about the problems are dismissed, discounted or punished; many implementers suffer from optimism bias (what could go wrong?), and there is steady turnover of officials. These are valid explanations and structural reform is essential. For now, it is important that there is justice for all those who
lost their lives in a needless tragedy.

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The government must be applauded for this imaginative diplomacy, aided in no small measure by the structural advantage of being the world’s pharmacy (Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)
The government must be applauded for this imaginative diplomacy, aided in no small measure by the structural advantage of being the world’s pharmacy (Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)

India’s vaccine diplomacy | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 06:37 PM IST
India started its vaccination drive against Covid-19 on January 16
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At the root of it is both the BJP and Trinamool’s belief that they have the first right to claim Bose. (Samir Jana / Hindustan Times)

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By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 06:37 PM IST
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On Thursday, the day when the index crossed 50,000, India’s price-earnings multiple (a measure of whether a stock is overvalued or undervalued) was 34.36. (REUTERS)
On Thursday, the day when the index crossed 50,000, India’s price-earnings multiple (a measure of whether a stock is overvalued or undervalued) was 34.36. (REUTERS)

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Farmers take part in a protest against the newly passed farm laws on the outskirts of Delhi, December 17, 2020 (REUTERS)

Farmers should shed rigidity

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The government retreated. Protesting groups should have reciprocated. In a democracy, farm groups exercised their right to protest — but they should not take over the rights of a sovereign Parliament and an elected government, and dictate terms from the streets.
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The room for dissent in the party is limited even as leaders can see clearly that its electoral prospects — in both state polls and 2024 elections — remain dim (HTPHOTO)
The room for dissent in the party is limited even as leaders can see clearly that its electoral prospects — in both state polls and 2024 elections — remain dim (HTPHOTO)

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By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON JAN 22, 2021 06:20 AM IST
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Along with domestic priorities, the Biden presidency will have to deal with the most important strategic challenge of the times— the belligerence of China (AFP)
Along with domestic priorities, the Biden presidency will have to deal with the most important strategic challenge of the times— the belligerence of China (AFP)

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UPDATED ON JAN 20, 2021 07:30 PM IST
Joe Biden’s elevation as the 46th President of the United States (US) marks a moment of victory for all those who believe in liberal democracy, civilised politics within the rules of the game, responsible leadership, and the inclusion of various social groups, including minorities, in the power structure
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Delhi’s air quality slipped into the “severe” category on Tuesday, for the sixth time this month (Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)

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India's Shardul Thakur (C) bowls to Australia's batsman Cameron Green on day four of the fourth cricket Test match between Australia and India at The Gabba, Brisbane, January 18, 2021 (AFP)

A new team comes of age

UPDATED ON JAN 20, 2021 06:10 AM IST
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A medical worker inoculates a nurse with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine, Osmania General Hospital, Hyderabad, January 18, 2021. (AFP)
A medical worker inoculates a nurse with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine, Osmania General Hospital, Hyderabad, January 18, 2021. (AFP)

Autopsy of a pandemic: Hold China, WHO accountable

By
UPDATED ON JAN 20, 2021 06:11 AM IST
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Farm unions have not responded to the government’s offer to amend the laws, or to the Supreme Court’s directive to cooperate with a committee meant to examine the issue in detail (PTI)
Farm unions have not responded to the government’s offer to amend the laws, or to the Supreme Court’s directive to cooperate with a committee meant to examine the issue in detail (PTI)

Don’t let challenges turn intractable | HT Editorial

UPDATED ON JAN 19, 2021 06:20 AM IST
Both the China ingression and the stance of the farm unions are disparate issues, born out of their own specific histories
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According to a news report, US President-elect Joe Biden has appointed at least 20 Indian-Americans, with 17 of them in White House positions — 13 of the 20 also happen to be women. (AFP)

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By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON JAN 17, 2021 07:16 PM IST
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A health worker carries a carton containing vaccines during the delivery of the first consignment of 1,000 vials of Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN, Jaipur, January 13, 2021 (Himanshu Vyas/ Hindustan Times)
A health worker carries a carton containing vaccines during the delivery of the first consignment of 1,000 vials of Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN, Jaipur, January 13, 2021 (Himanshu Vyas/ Hindustan Times)

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Prime Minister KP Oli’s unconstitutional move to dissolve Parliament (the new Nepali Constitution does not give the PM the right to do so) has led to a de facto split in the Nepal Communist Party (NCP). (Getty Images)

Delhi’s balancing act with Nepal | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON JAN 15, 2021 08:37 AM IST
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The ruling puts the provisions of SMA on a par with personal laws which require no notice period (PTI)
The ruling puts the provisions of SMA on a par with personal laws which require no notice period (PTI)

Upholding the right to liberty and privacy | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON JAN 15, 2021 08:37 AM IST
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WhatsApp, the most popular mobile communication tool in the world, is going to great lengths to explain that its new use policy does not jeopardise the privacy of its users by sending additional data to its parent company, Facebook. (REUTERS)
WhatsApp, the most popular mobile communication tool in the world, is going to great lengths to explain that its new use policy does not jeopardise the privacy of its users by sending additional data to its parent company, Facebook. (REUTERS)

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UPDATED ON JAN 13, 2021 10:35 PM IST
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