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Daffodils of life

The poem ‘Daffodils’ by William Wordsworth in High school may have been read in our school days wherein author recollects a scene of  daffodils seen by him along a lake  among hills as it gives him happiness again and again. Whenever, somebody is narrating his good works /venture, then I refer this poem to say that he is recollecting ‘daffodils his life’. One of the daffodils of my life whose recollection gives repeated intrinsic pleasure is as under. 

A number rural infrastructure projects sanctioned by NABARD were ongoing in Arunachal Pradesh (AP) when I was posted as State in-charge in July 2002.  Just after  joining in September, I along with our consultant, a retired Engineer- in-Chief of Assam, monitored a 45 km road from Sagalee to Mangio (S-M) in a Papumpare district which involved our assistance of Rs 29 crore. Our inspection started from origin of the road along with the Executive Engineer and his team. The road consisted of: formation cutting with curves, 100s of culverts, two medium size bridges and almost continuous retention & breast walls. Our consultant neatly recorded in black ink, chain-age wise shortcomings like breadth of cuttings & curves, thickness of slabs on culverts, compacting and fixing of walls, etc. In fact, there were 100s of petty non-professional contractors for small patches of road. It was due to the fact that land compensation was not given in AP and in lieu of that contracts were given to the villagers as per their land. Prime fascia, poor quality was visible all through.

We monitored about 20 km from 11 AM to 4 PM almost non-stop. Then, we were taken for lunch cum dinner in a village.  It was a marriage like pandal with 100s of goanburahs (village heads) and a local dance party was entertaining them. There were all arrangements of drinking, chicken, and fishes and so on.  My consultant was non-alcoholic and I also declined to take in day time. Though, we enjoyed food and local dance. Then I was asked to speak to the village heads  wherein in told slowly in Hindi that I am interested to give the maximum assistance for your development but it should be properly utilized. We have found that the quality of work was very poor in this road and it may results in accidents and the road will collapse in short time. So tell your young contractors to do good work.

After returning to office, inspection report was sent to our Head Office Mumbai and the PWD of AP and payment of an installment of Rs4.50 crore was stopped. After a lull for a month, one day, I received call from than Horticulture Minister and MLA of that area (became CM later on) to release the amount. I politely told him; sir, I want you to be Minister again and again. He asked me, what is its meaning? I told sir, if good work is done, people will elect you repeatedly but the work of this road is very bad. He was a polite man and did not say anything. But after 15 days or so, he requested me if I can come to his office. I said definitely sir. On reaching there, I found one another MLA and contractors of that area were seating. I started explaining the shortcomings and in between the Minister said to them, listen seriously to Sangwan. He was unable to say himself, being a political man. I told the work was the worst around a particular village which happened to be of the supporter MLA. Then I advised the Minister to follow up with the Chief Engineer (CE) to send us the compliance report. After 15 days again he said, I am going to your Chairman at Mumbai along with a Rajya Sabha member. I said please take the letter of CE with you. Then a phone came from our then ED asking me the position. In the mean time, I had also received the compliance letter of CE so I told him sir, we will release now. But tell them that it will be again stopped if quality does not improve. I visited the project again along with my consultant in February 2003 and I was happy that works have redone at most the indicated points and the quality has improved from about 40 percent to 80 percent. We could reach by Gypsies to Mengio, the last village of the road. It was like Vasco Da Gama discovering Goa. We had tea with middle school teachers who were happy beyond imagination due to the pacca road. On returning to Itanagar, I published this news in local Arunachal Times and it was a surprise for the senior officers of the state that NABARD OIC can go to such a remote place. Then Finance Secretary of the state commented, “Sangwan ji, you have done something which we could not do”. It sent a message in the entire PWD of AP to be serious in implementations. Due to strict monitoring, this road was almost completed except black carpeting of a 7 km patch. It took another 10 years to complete that work as I ascertained when I visited AP as a consultant after retirement in 2011.”

 I urge my friends in service to collect such daffodils to enjoy throughout life.



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Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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