Haryana today sees a combination of good and bad roads cutting through the state. While the good roads are mostly the well-maintained National Highways (maintained by NHAI) running through the state, the condition of roads connecting various districts, tehsils and villages are in very poor condition. The responsibility of building and maintaining these roads lie with the state government. The state government keeps praising itself on how much and how fast Haryana has developed in the last couple of decades but a drive around the state will show a completely different picture. It's one of neglect and corruption.
Tender after tender gets released for road development but the poor pace of development and maintenance of roads tells the story of how the state funds get misused and siphoned off, all the cost of the tax payer and common citizen of the state.
Corruption has become institutionalized and the entire business of road building in the state is being controlled by a handful of contractors who very often work as a cartel. Once a road building tender is released, this group of contractors get together and negotiate an unofficial agreement between themselves on who will win the tender. Once an agreement is reached and all have decided on which one will execute the tender, all others bid higher than him. This contractor keeps the prices high to ensure that there is adequate margins available to pay various officials and local leaders. In the next tender that is released, this contractor ensures that he bids higher than the next contractor who has been selected to win the tender. This is how the entire system of tenders is divided between the cartel members. The business is tightly controlled and no outsider is allowed to get in.
If this is so, then why is the condition of the roads so bad soon after the road has been built or just after the rains? The answer is that the contractors deliberately keep the quality of roads below the required standard so that there is another tender released at a later date to repair the same. This way they ensure that there is a regular cycle of money flowing within the cartel.
Unfortunately, the present government has allowed this malpractice to continue in the state and it's the common man that pays for this.
Besides the poor quality of roads, the absence of proper lighting on these roads is also another problem that people face. Lack of adequate lighting has resulted in several accidents on these roads and contributing to a rise in crime.
According to Capt. Abhimanyu, Naya Haryana will prioritize interior road development as this is the lifeline of the state. All development will be useless unless the agricultural produce and other goods are able to move quickly and efficiently through the state and reach the mandis on time. A good network of roads will ensure that there is minimal loss to agricultural produce besides savings on road maintenance, vehicle maintenance etc.
Under Naya Haryana, there will be a complete review of the system of shortlisting and awarding the contracts for road building. Once a contract is awarded, the contractor will have to complete the road building on time otherwise pay stiff penalties. In addition, we plan to hold the contractor responsible for maintaining the roads for a clearly defined period and no further payment will be released in this period. If a contractor fails to maintain the roads during this period, he will be blacklisted and will not be allowed to bid for any future contracts in the state.
Capt. Abhimanyu's vision for well-maintained network of roads in Naya Haryana will only be realized if the process of awarding the tender is transparent and fair, with all the necessary checks and balances in place.