Needed: Coordination between government departments

Needed: Coordination between government departments
M. Amin Mir

The departments of Rural Development, Roads & Buildings, and Revenue are digital now. The first one is the construction agency in rural areas while the second is meant for bigger constructions and the third is the issuing authority for land records. The three departments play a key role in the development of the entire Union Territory.
In the past twenty years the construction industry has changed tremendously in terms of size and complexity of projects. Currently, many construction projects have a complex design of electric and mechanical installations, employ sophisticated structure systems, and serve diversified requirements of different end users. The project complexity is a result of the industry fragmentation, which requires effective co-ordination between the project parties.
Project parties deal with large amounts of information derived from various stake holders, such as owners of the land, designers, contractors, material suppliers, banks and government departments. Accessing the information which is required at the right time is difficult in such situations. As a result, construction projects have suffered from poor quality, cost and time.
The construction industry has extensive linkages with the rest of the economy. Completions of project/s on time, quality standard and that too within the estimated budget are the main goals of construction projects. However, there is a lack of proper coordination amongst construction agencies and related departments. Many problems are thus encountered on large construction projects.
An example this author found regarding the lack of coordination between these departments is the widening of Anantnag-Verinag road via Dooru Shahabad. This road is 30 kms in length and when the first land settlement was done, the width of this main road was settled at 33ft. Of this, only 18 ft had been macadamised. Seeing the importance and huge traffic rush on this road, the department of Road & Buildings submitted the proposal of widening a few years back, but due to lack of coordination between the departments and lack of funds this proposal found its place in the dustbin. Heavy traffic jams continue to be seen at every main point of the road. There are many similar projects that await a green signal for many years due to lack of coordination between the related departments.
Coordination between departments from secretary level to subordinate level was lacking during the previous governments but the present LG government under the supervision of a public-friendly central government has made it possible, resulting in many projects being completed/or nearing completion within a targeted time period. The LG administration has made it clear that concerted steps should be taken and it should be kept in mind that financial constrains and allotment of funds will be given top priority.
A few years back, on January 19, 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked various arms of the government to function in cohesion under a broad vision. Unfortunately, government departments have a nature of working in silos. There is no coordination between departments and that is why if one department thinks about a particular programme, the other department thinks the opposite of that. In our Union Territory, when the R&B Department macadamises a road, it does not communicate with related departments such as of Irrigation and Flood Control, Power Development, and especially Jal Shakti. When the work is completed, any of these departments comes forward with its own essential project, whether it is laying of pipes or poles, and they, too, do not inform the R&B Department. The work already completed now gets damaged. Even sometimes two departments confront each other in court to settle disputes by paying money to lawyers.
This is not a healthy situation and it needs to change. The way to do this is by sitting together and discussing in detail projects under a broad vision, think about the roles each department needs to play, and together envision what can be done together.
It is essential that we work together. We have seen that sometimes the departments take years to transfer land available with them to other agencies, despite the land parcels being acquired. Officers spend a lot of time everyday in meetings, trying for coordination. How many road projects get delayed due to the forest department… There will be progress only if the officers of different departments and of the district administration work together. Then only the common goal will be achieved.

The writer is In Charge of District Record Room, DC Office Anantnag. [email protected]

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