Corruption or Quality Control?

With so much of emphasis on development and the accompanying funds to realize this objective flowing, it is only appropriate for the State government to ensure that the development work and the assets being built conform to the minimum standard of quality. Over the years, the poor quality of our development work has become a matter of concern for all of us. Development is taking place no doubt however many of the projects taken up either remain stalled or even if they are complete, the end result is substandard and poor quality. Recently one of the Parliamentary Secretary (for Irrigation & Flood Control) expressed his disappointment that many times the projects being undertaken were looked upon as ‘subsidies’ and without looking at the long-term benefit. In fact many of the government projects are done without following the laid down specifications. The Parliamentary Secretary is right when he laments that such government undertakings are seen as short term gains. And he has rightly cautioned that payment against the ongoing project works would not be released till the works were done as per specifications and guidelines of the department. It is important for our Ministers to be proactive in monitoring and supervising development activity taking place on the ground. A few years back during the first DAN government, the Minister looking after Roads & Bridges had embarked on the goal of reviewing government projects across the length and breadth of the State. However this good practice could not be sustained for long.
While the need for our Ministers and bureaucrats to take leadership in appraisal and correction of projects is much needed, the more systemic approach of going in for a Quality Control Board has been talked about for long but with no concrete steps taken so far. From time to time our Ministers harp on quality control but nothing has been done so far. In fact our Chief Minister has been profusely speaking about quality control and the need for engineers and contractors to improve the quality of construction works. The CM is also on record as stating that the state government has decided to constitute a ‘quality control board’ to improve the quality of constructions while also pointing out that it may become necessary to set up quality control laboratories in every district headquarters so that the facility is available to all the project implementing units and to enforce a uniform control on quality. However it has been many months since and we still do not have this. Recently the Opposition Leader had also raised the issue about the need to set up a Quality Control Board. The Chief Minister should fulfill his commitment towards this end. However one should be mindful of the fact that having a quality control board or training programmes or exhibiting professionalism alone will not solve our problems unless we go into the heart of the matter—profit motive being the central one. Besides, there is a deep nexus involving those who give out contracts and those who carry out such works. This has a moral dimension because it is also a moral failing on the part of human beings. And unless we put Christian values into our work, we will be guided by the evils of dishonesty and greed in our action. Quality control is also needed in our personal lives.