Prashant Dayal, Ahmedabad: Narendra Modi doesn’t like officials, who say no to him, a fact well known amongst government officials who have worked with him during his stints as the Gujarat chief minister and now as the country’s prime minister. But this seems to be costing the state and the country a lot of money. When a person makes a mistake, its cost has to be borne either by the individual himself, or his family. But when a politician makes a mistake, it is the state or the country that foots the bill. A similar instance was seen in Gujarat recently.
It was Narendra Modi’s dream to have a RoRo Ferry service from Ghogha to Dahej in order to save time and money in transportation. Even though it was a dream for people’s good, Modi was warned by several authorities that the sea between Ghogha and Dahej is not fit for a ferry service like the ones in foreign countries. But Modi was stubborn about his demand and got his way in starting the Ghogha-Dahej RoPax service. But now the company that operates this service has written to the PMO that they cannot continue operations of this service anymore.
For a ferry service to operate smoothly, the depth of the sea in the region must be at least 5 metres. Officials had told Modi about the heavy sedimentation in the route and a large amount of silt and sand wash towards the harbour during the ebb tide. When Modi asked what solution can be brought for this, the officials informed him that routine dredging needs to be done for the removal of sediments and debris from the bottom of the harbour, which would cost the government Rs 200 crores every month.
Despite this, there won’t be any surety on whether this expenditure will make this service successful as sedimentation is a natural process and will continue to wash silt and sand into the harbour. But Modi insisted that the service be started and then many officials and politicians got involved in the process of kick-starting this service because they could rake in a good moolah out of the crores of rupees spent on it. The company commissioned to run the service informed the PMO in its letter that the required depth is not being achieved despite the regular dredging and even the traffic for the service is not as expected, due to which they are finding it difficult to continue the operations of the service.
When Chimanbhai Patel was the chief minister of the state, he had an official named Dixit in his office. He was the only official who would fearlessly say no to the chief minister. He used to put in small notes with his thoughts on several project files that would come to him to be sent to the CM. Many times his notes on the files would be against the idea of Chimanbhai, yet he worked at the CMO till the time Chimanbhai was in power. It is necessary to have officials like him at top offices, who would not hesitate in saying no to something that is not right.