Your space: Residents raise red flag over tricolour pole cost
The Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) standing committee has decided to pay a private firm ₹46.85 lakh annually to maintain a 107-metre high pole with the national flag. Our readers tell us if this expenditure is justified...Updated: Sep 22, 2019 16:49 IST
Maintaining a flagpole, located at Bhakti Shakti chowk in Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), for ₹46.85 lakh a year is an absolute waste of taxpayers’ money. The PCMC has been struggling with civic problems like- the emergence of slums, lack of financial support to government schools in the region, severely damaged roads, water shortage and lack of garbage management system. To spend ₹46.85 lakh for a flagpole is insulting for the poor people who suffer due to the lack of basic amenities. Instead, the same amount of money could be spent on building better infrastructure, developing women and child welfare schemes and maintenance of health and hygiene in the township.
This is nothing, but pseudo patriotism
Nationalism is all well and good, but, is it always justified? When people protested against the statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel located in Gujarat, they did so out of no ill will towards him or lack of respect for his legacy. The protest was for the over-allotment of funds for the statue. No one will say, it’s not good to have the tricolour flying high, but is one flag, no matter how high, worth almost ₹50 lakh a year? Would it not be more respectful to the country, if the same funds are used for something that will benefit the nation and it’s people; rather than just being a symbol, no matter how large and powerful. There’s no way anyone could justify such expenditure. Instead, we can spend that money to educate people about nationalism. Exhibitionists get into pseudo-patriotism and do not know about our duties introduced through the 42nd Amendment to the Constitution of India.
Exorbitant cost pinching tax-paying residents
Maintaining a flagpole for ₹46.85 lakh a year is illogical, and as a tax-paying resident, it pinches you. Pune and the adjoining areas are struggling with civic problems like waterlogging, potholes and cracks in bridges. The city needs better infrastructure and not a flagpole. Spending a huge amount of money on something that will not benefit the residents is disturbing. If we look at the bigger picture, in a country like ours, when funds of ₹2,989 crore is spent on “Statue of Unity”, to signify unity among citizens and as a tourist engagement, the situation is ironic in itself. Being patriotic is one thing, but being blinded by it, is something which should be looked down upon.
Spend money on creating better infrastructure
Looks like an unusual contest has flagged-off as to which state has the highest flagpole. PCMC constructed the 107-metre flagpole at Bhakti Shakti chowk in 2017 and claims that it is the highest in the country. Official records, however, state that the 110-metre flagpole at Belgavi is the highest in the country, followed by the flagpole at Attari border that stands tall at 109 metres. The civic authorities must realise that this is not a competition as the taxpayers suffer the most. We respect our national flag, but paying ₹46.85 lakh a year only for maintenance is ridiculous. The maintenance cost of the flagpole should have been taken into account before constructing it. Racing to have the country’s highest flagpole will not be of any help if the people that represent the country are living a life that induces pity. How is this a proof of patriotism? This money should be used to help clear the loans of farmers and give scholarships to meritorious students who cannot afford higher education.
Make basic amenities available
Our national flag is a matter of pride for us. However, if I have to choose between survival and chest thumping, I would safely choose the former. We have been struggling with civic matters, especially after a harsh monsoon. The state has been writing to the Centre for funds regarding the same. It would not be the right thing to do, if a private firm gets such a large amount of money to maintain identities. Identities are nurtured only when basic living conditions are liveable.
Decision reeks of partisan intentions
The cost is not justified. In a pragmatic world, PCMC does not enjoy the privilege of disbursing funds in such an area of interest. This decision to spend such a huge amount of money reeks of partisan intentions. The litany of problems pertaining to water supply and real estate should ideally lead a civic body to direct funds elsewhere. This does not mean that the national flag must not be a matter of importance. But the whole purpose of this exercise is to embed a sense of nationalistic fervour among citizens which in my view is not needed. People from Maharashtra and Pune have been aware of their national identity and their contribution has been immense. I would like to see livelihoods in a good shape and ₹46.85 lakh a year can definitely help make that happen.
Patriotism is not hoisting the flag on the highest pole
With all due respect to the tricolour, PCMC should think about the cost of maintaining the flagpole on two lines, viz psychologically and economically. Does patriotism reflect by hoisting the national flag on the highest pole? If the flag has been hoisted on the highest pole, does it mean your city is more patriotic than the others. In my view, pan-patriotism is better than pseudo-patriotism. PCMC should be concerned about maintenance of the area. If PCMC is so concerned about the national flags; then they should focus on the flags that have been thrown on the streets after Independence Day and Republic Day.
Why outsource when you have in-house staff
First of all, does a flagpole require so much money for maintenance? What exactly is their work in the name of maintenance, which PCMC employees can’t do? Why does PCMC have to outsource the work of maintaining a flag, when they have technical staff on their payroll? Outsourcing is the current fad, which is being followed by all municipal corporation. This is waste of public money and PCMC should have control over the expenditure as the whole country is facing a slow economic growth.