Patna: Infrastructural growth is key to any state’s progress. Bihar remained devoid of it for a very long time and the impact of this neglect is still visible in the state, which was bifurcated to give Birth to Jharkhand in 2000.
The fast-paced infrastructural activity in the last few years in the form of roads, flyovers, bridges and buildings would give an indication that things are finally moving. But are they really?
Take for example Patna, the Capital of Bihar. It has a chain of flyovers now, but the city is still gasping for breath like before. People cannot find traffic police holding traffic on one flank of the flyover to see queues of vehicles revving and honking in desperation, but it is easily visible in the city. Traffic police have a tough time regulating traffic up above, while below it is as usual free for all. The entrance and exit points of all the flyovers remains choked during peak traffic hours. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report had in 2019 also flagged the manner in which they were being constructed “without ensuring availability of drawing, tenders were invited before obtaining administrative approval and payments were made prior to technical sanction”.
While CAG hinted at the possibility of financial propriety, the larger question is if the crores of rupees spent on infrastructure have actually helped in easing life. More flyovers and roads are in the pipeline, besides move for metro and Ganga Path. All this means that the city is being punctured indiscriminately, as if unending work and spending of hundreds of crores on the drainage and sewage lines since the Ganga Action Plan days was not enough, to raise valid environmental concerns. The state of dwindling Ganga is a clear testimony. Patna once boasted of the longest 24-km bank along the Ganga, but now it has embankment within embankment to create room for buildings in the what was once the river bed.
The infra growth story has also started gulping down city’s heritage. Thanks of the intervention of the Patna High Court, the Khuda Baksh Library escaped the hammer to provide way for the Ganga Path. The Ganga Path is now nearing completion and the authorities are now looking for ways to find a way to connect it to the city. Poor Patna University has to bear t he bring. What several former VCs objected to, the present VC has readily agreed to. Nearly 30 kathaa of land of the Patna Science College adjacent to NIT, Patna will go for the purpose, as the university now is ever ready to sign on the dotted lines under the new dispensation. All that PU will get is another infrastructure ‘marvel’ in the form of a high rise to shrink the sprawling university into a mall-like look. But then, by then the dispensations will change and time will be up.
At a time when urban infrastructure the world over is facing the strain, more intense concrete jungles are not the answer in the name of infra development. Bihar needs to preserve its nature and future by blending its infra needs judiciously. Bihar’s lop-sides growth story needs to change. Growth should not be at the cost of future.