Inefficient , incompetent and corrupt are the words which come to mind when describing Himachal Pradeshâ€™s unwieldy and unpopular public works department (PWD) which has always let down the people of the state .
And worse the department is only deteriorating year by year, despite getting more and more funds from the state government and despite having access to the latest equipment and machinery.
Ask any local and tourist and he will tell you the roads have never been this bad for years all over the state. Pot holes in the state capital Shimla and on national highways can be a foot or more deep . Dust rises on the roads as if mining work is in progress .
Road repair work was to begin after the rains ended in mid September but five weeks later hardly any work is happening as people drive painfully on these appalling roads.
Every VIP drives on Shimlaâ€™s by-pass from Khalini to Panthaghati , from Sanjuali tunnel to Dhalli and further but no restoration work seems to happen , the PWD department seems to be deaf .
P.K. Dhumal stares down at you from the huge billboards by the road sides as you maneuver your way on these crowded , potholed and dusty roads .
The billboards tell you that the Dhumal led government is doing wonders in the hill state and has won many national awards, never mind if next moment the bumpy road jolts your vehicle again and you begin to focus on the bad road again and ignore the billboard .
So the tourist naturally curses and vows never to return to these pathetic and shameful roads in future. If the ranting tourist has the choice to leave the state the local has no choice but to return to these bad roads day after day and suffer .
Despite this grim reality every now and then we hear the stateâ€™s PWD minister Gulab Singh issuing statements to vernacular newspapers that all the roads will soon be â€˜chaka chakâ€™ or spick and span . But in reality the condition of the roads only seems to get worse .
If ever you question this clown like minister about the poor condition of the roads he simply dismisses such concerns with a laugh , he says this is an over-reaction and that things are not as bad and work is in progress or just simply puts the blame on the Central government .
Go anywhere in the state the most common sight is the PWD labour man slacking and finding reasons not to work . Not turning up in time or simply absconding .
Instead of working the PWD staff gangs prefer to light a fire , gossip and smoke by the roadside and call it a day soon after lunch , ask any villager in Himachal and he will confirm this tradition of the PWD staff .
Many of the workers in the PWD are between 60 and 70 years old and they never seem to retire . Imagine the sight of a 70 year trying to use a pick axe on the hard road surface , a sham and painful to watch .
And of course the entire world knows how deep the corruption levels run in the PWD department from top to bottom .
So forget it your roads in Himachal are not going to be built and repaired even if we all pay our taxes in time . This is how we are , a people with a third world mentality !
Photo credit: Amit Kanwar