Sunday, August 30, 2015

Have roads brought distributive justice and decentralized development?

I have always been arguing how expansion of road network has actually not benefitted the interiors of our country. Yesterday in a live TV debate on the Cuttack child death issue, a doctor argued how it was not possible for doctors to stay in village areas and serve poor people. To justify his stance he said thousands of crores have been spent in KBK but roads have not improved to the level which can make doctors stay in that poor region. He also mentioned about other infrastructures but road was what he emphasised upon so forcefully. In reality however roads have improved a lot in KBK region and many places in Odisha. Haven't they?

Quick was a senior social activist in giving the doc a reality check. Participating in that show, she pointed out, "in fact doctors stayed in rural areas more when there was no infrastructure, we have seen in our childhood days." How true.

Truth is no amount of infrastructure can take good doctors to rural areas any more. Lucrative private practices are all there in cities. Cities are where money is. All roads are built to bring resources, both ecological and human, from rural areas to enrich cities. The Smart Cities will accelerate this trend of exploitation further if our planners keep discriminating against rural areas.

We will always see infants in critical conditions being brought from rural areas to cities but will hardly see facilities getting decentralised.

Time to reflect, have roads really brought prosperity?

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