The LDF government and local self governments have been so ineffective in governing the State over the last two years that they are turning to people for help.
The Minister for Local Self Government Paloli Mohammedkutty had issued directives to the local self-governments that they should forthwith stop unauthorised constructions and take action against those who had broken the law. But nothing significant happened. The secretaries of the local bodies did not want to demolish the buildings of influential people with political backing. Many resumed constructions despite stop memos.
Now the Minister has announced that boards would be put up before unauthorised constructions stating which all provisions of the law they had broken. This is to enable the people to “take action” if the builder resumes work.
The secretaries of the local bodies cannot be blamed for inaction, as one knows what happened to the much-trumpeted Munnar evictions. The last stand of the Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan was to put up a board saying that government land was government land.
It is not to be thought of that display boards as a solution to administrative inefficiency is unique to the LDF Government. A public works minister in the UDF administration had announced some years back that boards would be put up near construction sites announcing the name of contractor and details of the contract. The public was to oversee that the contractor did not cheat the government after successive governments failed to check corruption in the Public Works Department. Similar solutions have been announced for ending corruption in the offices of the Motor Vehicles Department also. (Notices boards were to be put up showing the fee rates and ban on touts in the premises.) A few boards were put up and that was the end of it.
When the administration fails to check crime and corruption, the usual refrain of the government is that the laws are inadequate or call for people’s participation. The infamous goonda act was proposed by the previous government and brought into effect by the present government. However, the Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act did not end goodaism as almost every gooda worth his name has political patrons. Now, the government is talking of enlisting public support and cooperation to end crime. It expects residential associations and others to keep tab on criminal elements and help the police to apprehend them. Wishful thinking! The ultimate question is whether the government would be able to hoodwink the people for long through such exercises.