Saturday, November 13, 2010


On Nov. 10, 2010, I came across a small dispute between the contractor and the newly elected village Pradhan. The dispute was if the khadanja-bricks removed by the contractor from a pre-existing panchayat road belong to the contractor or to the Panchayat. The contractor was showing the tender document written in fluent English to the semi-literate village Pradhan to support his contention.

It is a case of construction of a road from Gadela to Lalpur in village panchayat of Kunaura of BKT block in district Lucknow. The work assigned was earth work, laying of soling bricks, spreading of granules and making a pukka road. It is noteworthy that the road from Gadela to Shahpur is already pukka and from near Shahpur to Lalpur the earth work was already done decades ago and soling of bricks completed then. Be as it may.

The Pradhan incidently was sitting with me and passed the tender document on to me for perusal. I read it twice and kept on asking the contractor as to where it was written about the pre-existing earth-work and bricks in the tender. He kept on saying you read the whole document and will see. Apparently he did not know English or may be he did not want to be specific. I told them that there was no mention about the ownership of the existing road material.

I do not insinuate motives but surely such tenders for village work, the quality of which will have to be certified by the village pradhan, should be in a language that he understands. I could understand if the work pertained to some scientific-technological projects and the language being technical could not be translated by the persons of the Rural Engeering Department. But, since the work pertains to villages and is non-technical, there is no justification of issuing the tenders in a foreign language. The rest I leave to investigative journalists to probe.

(Published in the HT on 13 November, 2010)

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