mid-day editorial: Don't hold out on the common man

It was people power and ire to the fore as Vasai locals took it upon themselves to open the new Vasai east-west flyover, which was meant to ease congestion on the old Vasai bridge. Tired of being stuck in traffic every day while crossing the 50-year-old bridge, people thought their troubles would be over as soon as the new flyover was opened. But when the new bridge remained shut even a month after it was ready, locals decided to take matters in their own hand, and opened it themselves.

While this paper does not condone behaviour like this — in some instances the infrastructure may not be fully ready or safe for use – this incident is an indicator of the frustration and anger among the common man because of the long wait. We have examples of public infrastructure being ready for months, but remaining shut to the public for the flimsiest of reasons. A common excuse is that the authorities have not yet managed to get a VIP to inaugurate it, or that political parties are fighting over who would inaugurate it.

Take the Pramod Mahajan Park in Dadar for instance. The 10-acre garden remained shut for eight months after its completion because of a tussle between BMC departments and because the authorities were looking for a political leader to inaugurate it. Vasai residents also alleged that the launch of the new flyover was being held up because the MMRDA was waiting for a top politician to do the honours. In other cases, inaugurations are held up because politicians can’t agree on what to call the new project.

Now, the Vasai flyover has been shut again, but public anger is still simmering. In a city where infrastructure is stretched thin — be it gardens, bridges, flyovers, roads or toilets — any new infra has the power to make life a lot easier, and holding these up will only lead to festering anger that is bound to explode. These facilities are made with public money and, once finished, they must be made available and accessible to people. Infra delayed is infra denied.

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