Infrastructure woes

I have been alternating between feeling thrilled at finally seeing monsoon arrive and getting irritated at the fate and state of the roads and infrastructure here in Hyderabad. What apathy! I am sometimes disturbed by all I see.

Growing up in Bombay has its own disadvantages. I was at first very surprised to see wires run across from poles to buildings, outside roads, across roads, outside people�s balconies, just about everywhere; in cities like Bangalore, Chennai and now here in Hyderabad. I was surprised to hear from my husband, Satya that apart from Bombay, none or maybe a few cities have underground tube system for electricity cables.

Most political organizations don�t even seem remotely interested to address the hazards that such wires can result it. Last monsoon as I was entering a building, I felt a slight tingle of electric shock in my arm. Shocked (literally) I looked up and saw the maze of wires overhead. Water had dripped from it into my arm? Since then I make it a point to avoid standing, parking etc below such wires. But getting back to what I was talking about, why aren�t people more interested in getting their city in shape.

At a talk, I once attended by Vandana Shiva, she mentioned very casually that digging was India�s national professional. Though we all in the audience laughed heartily at her words, the truth in them is undeniable. Every second some thing is being dug up somewhere in India. Why India, I bet even in this city at all seasons something is on. If you are going to dig up the roads anyway, why not lay some tubes for wires too! I can empathize with people not even noticing this in Hyderabad. Water is a perennial issue. It either doesn�t come or is dirty or is bore-well water. Roads are full of potholes. Who has time to worry about electric wires?

Madhapur, the hi-tech city, of tomorrow has no drinking water pipeline. Most tankers, I hear, are owned by politicians. Is it any surprise there are no pipelines? Supplying drinking water rakes in the moolah like nothing else does here. There are gardens galore, but there are no trees. The ones that are there are being chopped off for wider roads. From my fifth floor balcony, I can count at least 30 buildings and 3 trees. What a ratio. Ok yes those tiny shrubs and hibiscus trees abound in each building compound. But I see them bringing, no rain, man.

I open my window and look into my neighbour�s kitchen in the northern end of the house and into another neighbour�s living room in the southern end. If we each stick our hands out of our windows, we can shake them. Only the west end overlooking a concrete sea is respite. Thank god for the sunsets, else I would be able to survive.

I can�t help but feel this will never change. Someday I fear people wont be able to see the sky. I feel it can only get worse. Satya feels that something major will happen to make it all change. But he feels before that many cities will die and there will be hundred of small towns which will crop up. People, he says, wont go live in cities becauses towns will have it all. Wasnt this the Gandhian model of development?

Hmm. Brain is working overtime today.

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