Luxury first, needs later?

While the Lucknow Metro, a much-needed transport system in the most populous state in the country, opened for public amid much fanfare on Wednesday, 6th September, people forgot the price they paid for it. Seems like the government of Uttar Pradesh is so keen on development that they have forgotten to provide what the citizens actually need: basic amenities.

Throughout the humid months of May, June and July, it was reported across several parts of the state that power cuts lasting between 6 to 12 hours a day had been a constant feature throughout the summers. And this is just the city folk talking. The rural areas are not even considered in the picture.

While the nation is applauding the masterminds of the Lucknow Metro project for its quick execution before the deadline, the trains suffered from a glitch on the very first day of travel, leaving about a hundred passengers stuck inside. Eventually, the train had to be towed by another train and passengers had to be evacuated from the front and back exits. The sudden switching off of air conditioning systems and lights had driven some passengers to a state of panic and anxiety. Was it a genuine technical error or were quality and efficiency compromised for speed? Only time will tell.

It was reported that one of the key reasons for the project’s timely completion and successful execution was the cooperation from the different departments of the government and the free flow of funds. It is dicey how the state decides what projects receive proper funds and which ones don’t, because the news about the pediatric deaths in Gorakhpur’s BRD Medical College Hospital is not even old yet, and the issue there had cropped up due to unpaid Oxygen dues of about 65 lakhs.

If such abundant funding was available, why did the government choose to invest it into a semi-luxury project like metro rail and not into tackle crucial situations like agricultural debts, rural impoverishment, scarcity of food, lack of water and electricity supply, sanitation, or any such amenity that held more importance to the people? Why do all the funds of the state go into developmental projects in cities, while the taxes are paid equally by every citizen?

It is indeed a moment of pride for the accomplishment of such a project in the country. However, one has to question if we are emptying our coffers for the right deals. Nobody is going to ride these rails if there is no food to pay for, or any electricity or water. Nobody needs a transport system over an efficient healthcare system. The government needs to remember that development should be focused on rural areas more than urban areas, which are already fairly developed.

The funds come from the taxes we pay, and the money we earn. The government should consider the underdeveloped population’s needs, and implement them into their development plans as well.

These priorities need to be set straight, or else development will only be in the name and not in deed.

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