The flag is not fluttering! This is a meaningful sentence. The flag is a symbolic thing. When a flag flutters in the sky, it indicates something is alive and vibrant. When it doesn’t flutter it indicates stagnancy. And when the flag is torn and down, it is considered to be a bad omen. Though, I am writing all this, I don’t mean them. Let me come to the point. I am writing about the flag which was fluttering till the other day and which is torn and down now.
Friends are you convinced with the explanations and interpretations offered by the official sources as published in the newspapers on the torn out flag which was subsequently downed? I am not only not convinced with their explanation but also angry with the authorities for offering such explanations. Before I come to the explanation, let me discuss a few other things. Sometime back, before installing the flag, someone told me about the flag and the huge amount of money spent on it.
So many people say so many things. At times everything doesn’t get registered on your mind. It is not possible. But, one fine morning when I saw our national flag fluttering on the hill top, I liked the sight of it. So the flag thing was off my mind. Now that the flag was torn and down, the entire issue of hoisting such a gigantic flag resurfaced on my mind.
They said they did it as part of smart city project. I am least bothered to know the definition of a smart city from them. To me and I think to any sensible person any smart city has to go beyond the basics. I don’t think anybody can dispute this. So far Guwahati is concerned as a capital city of Assam have we attended to the basics? What are the basics–potable water, roads, power supply, sewage control system, healthcare and educational facilities, maintenance of open space, markets and other related things. How will our city look if you attend to all these? I think the city will automatically look smart and just by adding the frills you can call the place a smart city.
Do we have all these in the city of Guwahati? I need not tell you, the residents of Guwahati know their daily awes. Without attending to the basics, they are trying to turn Guwahati a smart city by declaring a one and half kilometre road a walking zone for six hours once in a week. And do you know how much money they spend on it? They spent more than 17 crore in converting the Fancy Bazar riverside road for walking zone. Then, comes this flag.
How much did they spend on it? They spent a whopping amount of three crore on this project. Just imagine, for hoisting a flag they spent this amount. The gigantic national flag was hoisted by the chief minister only the other day on the 2nd of October, 2018. After flying in the sky for just about 37 days the flag was torn and down now. And look at the explanation offered by the Smart City Authorities of Guwhati: “A local team is attending to the issue, and considering the sheer size and magnitude of the flag and the height of the structure, it would require a considerable amount of work under expert supervision. The flag which has a dimensions of 120 120x 80 feet and weighs approximately half a ton, would require careful handling, for which team of experts from Bajaj Electricals Limited is on its way to Assam to carry out the necessary repair work.” This is as reported in The Assam Tribune on November 8. What do you do with this explanation?
First thing first, did we need this flag at a cost of 3 crore? No, we don’t. We have dire needs to attend to than hoisting a flag atop Gandhi Mandap. The flag was not our priority. Having said this, let us come to the explanation offered by them for the damaged flag. Didn’t they apply basic science while installing the flag? Didn’t they examine the height, weight and the air pressure at the time of installing the flag? If they didn’t, it was a willful offence. If they did, they faulted grievously on it.
The department has promptly ordered an inquiry into the incident by the principal secretary of the Guwahati Development department. This is quite interesting. After all the entire Smart City thing falls under him only. I think, once it was decided politically the entire process must have been approved by the same principal secretary. How can then he be entrusted to conduct this inquiry? Is it a justified thing?
There is another important issue involved in it. The city of Guwahati belongs to its residents. There should be a procedure through which the authorities could consult people from different disciplines and city veterans before taking such important decisions affecting the city. The dwellers of the city know the needs of the city better than the bureaucrats of the department concerned. The concerned department may carry out the routine things, but for any signature projects there should be a procedure of wider consultation. Such procedure exists in important cities.