When I first came to the Mathwad region in 1985 the first joke I heard was that the road from Alirajpur to Mathwad had been blackened with a macadamised top quite a few times on paper but it still retained the mutiple colours of a mud road because the funds had been siphoned off to colour the pockets of the contractors, bureaucrats and politicians. The lack of a proper road meant that not only was there no public transport but that higher level administrators also could not visit the area frequently because it was difficult to reach by jeeps also. The mobilisation of the KMCS first put pressure on the administration and the government to visit the area and also do something to develop the roads. However, thirty years later the road to Mathwad still remains untarred and the only difference now is that it has been given a stone top in preparation for macadamisation.
Since the road still takes a heavy toll on a vehicle that travels on it regularly there is only one bus that does two trips a day from Alirajpur to Mathwad. It is a ramshackle bus that frequently breaks down. Obviously it was in no shape to take the heavier load that was there on sunday with many people sitting on the top of the bus along with the stuff they had bought from the market. In fact even in the plains part from Alirajpur to Chhaktala there are an insufficient number of buses plying compared to the people travelling and so there are many jeeps that ply illegally and are also overloaded as in the picture below.
Even with roads it is the same problem. They cost the earth to build, especially in hilly areas like Mathwad. The government does not have the resources to build good roads and of course there is the ubiquitous problem of siphoning off of funds by corrupt officials. The government does not have funds because it cannot mobilise enough taxes from the people who are mostly poor. Since all economic activities require subsidies to make them profitable obviously those who are economically more powerful grab most of the government funds and the Bhils get the least whether it is in terms of roads, transport, health or education.
All this brings the whole project of modern development under a cloud. Even its economic costs are very high even if we do not count the environmental and social costs. Those engaged in economic activities within this paradigm from the lowest jeep owners to the highest corporation chief executive officers are all bribing the regulators to allow the cutting of or total neglect of costs so as to make a profit. Thus, if modern development is to be pursued then we must also be prepared to accommodate corruption and thievery and the disasters that arise from these.
Even though on vastly different scales altogether the overturning of the bus on the road to Mathwad is a manifestation of the same cost cutting and lack of regulatory oversight that led to the Bhopal Gas and the Fukushima Nuclear disasters.