Moribund governance: On Ghaziabad disaster

The Ghaziabad disaster underscores the need for regular audit of civic projects

Every year, the monsoon extracts a penalty in the form of collapsed buildings in several States. Just over three years ago, several people died when part of a bus stand caved in near Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. Appalled by the 41 deaths in a building disaster at Bhiwandi, Maharashtra in September last year, the Bombay High Court framed questions for municipal authorities, including the basic premise: are those in authority completely helpless in preventing the collapse of structures and stopping the loss of life? The court also emphasised that citizens have a right to live in safe buildings and environment, within the meaning of Article 21. What happened in Ghaziabad is particularly deplorable, as the cremation ground is an essential facility, and entirely within the ambit of public authorities to maintain. There are suggestions that the structure was poorly designed, lacking stability due to use of inferior materials, while the contractor had several projects assigned to him in the district. These and other charges, including favouritism involving politicians, are best probed by an independent judicial member. Mr. Adityanath should realise that U.P., a laggard on many development metrics, can transform itself only through rule of law and efficient implementation of public projects. The horror of Muradnagar should impel his government to act.


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