On October 13, Telangana's IT, Industry and Municipal Administration K T Rama Rao tweeted four photographs of him walking down the streets of New York, dressed in a dapper suit. The tweet wondered: "Walking down streets of NYC is a walk down memory lane. Where did all the years go?!!!"

 

 

 

 

KTR's reference was to his years when he worked as an IT professional in the US till 2004. But he would not have bargained for this unkind cut from author and Press Advisor to former PM, Dr Manmohan Singh, Sanjaya Baru who tweeted in reply: "Make the most of it. I am visiting home and asking 'where have all the roads gone?!'


Baru was referring to his visit to hometown Hyderabad, and though he put smileys in his tweet, the sharpness of the message was not lost on anyone. And KTR would have got the punch in the tweet as well. 

 

 

 

 

This weekend, I was travelling in an auto passing through Secunderabad railway station. The Hyderabad Metro Rail work and the monsoon have meant the road there has disappeared. Its place has been taken up by gravel, stones and potholes in wholesale. "Father and son promised they would make Hyderabad into a Singapore. Is this Singapore?" grumbled the auto driver, referring to chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and his minister-son KTR. 


That the city is crumbling is quite obvious. The famous Hyderabadi laidback chalta hai attitude sounds like a cruel joke now as Hyderabad is no longer chalta hai or on the move. Traffic for the most part of the day is in bumper to bumper mode, with the city resembling a patch whose roads have been devoured by termites.


The termite of corruption. Because it was only earlier this year that most of the arterial roads in the city were recarpeted by removing the top layer. One thought this would be a better job that would withstand the monsoon showers. But no. The roads resembled moon's craters after the first showers, and no amount of makeshift filling would work. Why shouldn't the contractors who did the job be fired and blacklisted?


It is this civic mess that killed a seven-year-old in Hyderabad on Thursday. The boy reportedly entered the Hyderabad Metro Rail work zone to relieve himself and slipped into a 10-feet deep pit dug up to erect a pillar. The pit was filled with rainwater and sewage, and the boy would have suffocated to death. 


Ideally, such dangerous work zones should be completely barricaded. That it was not so, with a gap to let outsiders in, is a testimony to how careless we as a society are about the safety aspect. More than half the city is dug up for Metro work and its crude implements lying around everywhere are an invitation to disaster. 


KTR on many occasions admitted to frustration at not managing to get things done. The problem also is with how Hyderabad or at least the tech-savvy population of the city reacts. Yes, he is the Municipal administration minister, but if things only get done if you tag him on a grievance, hope for him to notice it and wait for him to forward the tweet by tagging the concerned official or department, then there is something terribly wrong with the system. In any city, it is the corporator or the ward officer who should be directly responsible for addressing woes. In Hyderabad, they are the invisible people, who get away by doing nothing.


In January this year, Hyderabad voted for the Municipal corporation. I am sure most of us - me included - do not know who the corporator of our area is. His/Her phone number, Twitter handle, Facebook page. Most of us bought into KTR's promises and therefore hold him accountable for every street, road, the garbage dump in the city. It is time we move a rung lower and fix responsibility on the right people. 


Hopefully the next time Sanjaya Baru comes visiting, he will not ask 'where have all the roads gone?'