Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Dilemma

Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Dilemma

The administration is mulling to replace the worn-out drinking water distribution pipe lines in Srinagar city nearly 60 years after they were laid to supply water to the inhabitants. The Public Health Engineering Department (PHE), which oversees the supply of drinking water in Kashmir, has been convincing the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to fund them at the earliest to ease out the problems in the supply of water. The replacement of the water supply infrastructure in Srinagar city might as well be an urgent need and given ADB’s remit, the development bank might as well pour money into it. But, the fact remains that almost invariably, in Kashmir, most well meaning schemes flounder on the rocks of reality. This reality pertains to abysmally poor nature of project management here, overlaid by a degree of corruption. All this then poses a dilemma for the ADB: replacement of the water supply infrastructure constitutes a need, for obvious reasons, including public health and hygiene given the issues delineated here and past practice(s) and even precedents, there is a problem of efficient and effective utilization of funds. Under these conditions, what is to be done? The answer is clear: release the funds but rejigg the entire approach towards project management which could also mean a fuller involvement of the ADB in the project, if legally feasible. Hitherto, it would appear that the ADB , would release funds in tranches. That is, after a certain phase or stage of a given project was completed, the development bank would release the monies. But, it is here that the problem might lie. The staggered approach to funding means latitude and leeway for poor project management and practices thereof(including perhaps corruption). Often times, poor project management and inordinate delays in execution and delay are blamed on conditions that obtain in Kashmir and climatic conditions. However, this is s poor excuse. To posit the cliché, “ if there is a will, there is a way”, projects in Kashmir can be completed in time or within a reasonable time frame factoring in all the constants and variables that hold in Kashmir. But, the problem is that of lack of will , among other things. How, the question is, can these issues be obviated? The answer lies in creating robust and fuller oversight mechanism coupled with layers of accountability that put the onus on the various departments that are the recipients of development fund , plus robust and vigorous penalties for delays. Otherwise, these well meaning funds from developmental organizations will go the way they have gone in the past.

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