Sunday, August 31, 2008
A `SHORTS' PROTESTOR AGAINST FLOODS GETS LIFE THREATS
`PLEASE, JUST MAKE WAY FOR WATER TO FLOW'
By Manuwant Choudhary
Before the river Kosi `pralaya', areas in Patna like Kankarbagh and posh areas like Patliputra had been under water for months and there was no sign of any municipality or the Bihar government until one citizen decided to protest, and being a journalist he decided to do it his way, so he walked into the chief ministers presser wearing shorts!
The chief minister Nitish Kumar asked him, "Kyon Sanjayji...aisa bhes kyon banaye hain...(Why Sanjayji why are you dressed in shorts?
Sanjayji, "Sir, shayad aap shaher mein nahin nikalte...shaher ke adhiktar log aise hee shorts pahanne par majboor hain kyonki unke ilaake mein paanee laga hai...(Sir, it seems you do not travel on Patna's roads....most citizens are wearing shorts due to the waterlogging in their areas."
The chief minister called the Disaster Management secretary an IAS Mr.S. Siddarth, who is introduced as being an IIM graduate.
The chief minister orders that the water from Sanjay Jha's house be drained out immediately.
The secretary calls Sanjay and shows him a satellite image of Patna but when Sanjay asks him to google to his locality the IIM grad fails to find his area.
So Sanjay just gives him his address and a map of the drains in his locality which if cleared would drain the water.
The work is completed in a month.
But today after being a regular reader of indiavikalp...Sanjay sends me an SOS e-mail..that he has been getting threats so if I could see him.
So I actually went to a flood-ravaged Kankarbagh and with open drains still clogged, roads totally washed away and parks with muck and dried-up trees..I dont need to visit the Kosi belt.
Sanjayji is a very senior journalist having worked with India Today for decades.
Today he told me his story.
"You know why I quit my job with India Today in New Delhi to work in a new newspaper Aaj Samaj which has no presence in Bihar. For the past 32 years my home in Kankerbagh was flooded with just an hour of rains. So last year when my area was flooded again every day my wife would call me up in Delhi and cry....I could feel her pain..and so I quit my job to solve this problem once and for all. My children could not even play.."
So todays article in Aaj Samaj is about Sanjay's pain and his empathy with the flood victims in the Kosi region.
He writes, "I want to know from India's Prime Minister whether he can ensure that every paisa of the thousand crores will reach the flood victims."
"I want to know why contractors, municipality, politicians have a nexus and why they all block the path of the water in Kankerbagh and Kosi.."
Said Sanjay, "You know forget those hundreds of kilometres under flood by the Kosi..the drains in Kankerbagh are clogged purposefully. When I saw that even the chief ministers orders do not have immediate impact....one day I overheard a conversation that made me sit up and take note. One person was asking the other as to what happened to that scooterwallah with the umbrella who fell in the gutter yesterday?"
"I immediately found a shovel and began clearing the drain near my house, even using my bare hands, and within hours the water cleared. I saw a bulldozer returning after clearing a drain..I made him return and clear it for a third time because he had not done his job."
"But now I have been threaned by contractors in the area and imagine the government gives them contracts to build parks in areas that are under water!!!"
When I called up my mother who was in New Delhi she was overjoyed, "My son has become an engineer without getting a degree."
She told me something I never knew, "That is the drain in which I fell and almost drowned once."